17th of May greeting to the readers of The Norwegian American

A message from Ambassador Kåre R. Aas

Kare R. Aas

Photo: Ingunn Henrikssen
In 2019, Ambassador Kåre R. Aas was the guest of honor and keynote speaker at Syttende Mai Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Ambassador of Norway to the United States

Dear friends and readers of The Norwegian American,

This spring is different from any other spring I have experienced during my stay here in the United States. These days I work mostly from home, and so do my colleagues. We conduct all our meetings virtually. The few people I physically meet, I keep at a distance. It feels unnatural, yet we know it is necessary. I am sure all of you have similar experiences. As we approach Norwegian Constitution Day on the 17th of May, the contrasts are even more apparent to me. Still we will try to keep some of our traditions—one of which is my annual greeting to you!

This is my seventh year celebrating the 17th of May as Norway’s Ambassador to the United States. It has been an honor and a privilege for me to be able to celebrate this day across different states and regions over the years—in the Midwest, on the East Coast, the West Coast, and in Alaska. 

For all Norwegians, in Norway as well as in the United States, this is a very special day. I am sure you know the historical facts: The Norwegian Constitution is the second-oldest constitution in the world still in use. The U.S. Constitution is the only one that has been in effect longer. The framers of Norway’s Constitution were very much inspired by America’s. Norway would not be the free, open, tolerant society that we are today without guidance from our Constitution. Remembering our values and the foundations our society is built on remains more important than ever. This is what we celebrate every 17th of May. 

It is, above all, a day for family, and for children. Children forming parades and marching around town. Everyone out and about waving flags and singing. Band music, and shouts of Hurra! Hurra! Hurra! Hot dogs, ice cream, and candy on the menu. 

Children in Norway will have a different experience this year. This is a time to maintain social distancing, so that we may come back healthy and strong next year! We may not be able to assemble for this year’s Constitution Day. But that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate together. I hope that you all will take the opportunity to celebrate your Norwegianness and what it means to be Norwegian-American on this special day. The pride. The heritage. Our past and our future, maintaining the strong ties between Norway and the United States. 

Even though you may be confined to your backyard or your living room, I hope you will take the time to wave a flag, to sing a song, to eat hot dogs and ice cream, and to march and shout. Take a day away from the concerns of everyday life to celebrate. Share you celebration on social media. Call your friends and relatives and parade with them over Skype. Teach your children why this day is special and everything it stands for.

Even though we are separated, we are all in this together. Even though we may celebrate the 17th of May separately, we still celebrate together, across social distancing boundaries, and across the ocean. 

Here’s wishing you and your friends, family, and loved ones a very safe and happy 17th of May celebration. Shout it from your backyard, your balcony, or your Instagram account—Hurra! Hurra! Hurra! And I’ll be sure to do the same.

Kåre R. Aas
Ambassador of Norway to the United States

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The opinions expressed by opinion writers featured in “On the Edge” are not necessarily those of The Norwegian American, and our publication of those views is not an endorsement of them. Comments, suggestions, and complaints about the opinions expressed by the paper’s editorials should be directed to the editor.

This article originally appeared in the May 8, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.