A new patriotism

Syttende Mai memories

barnetoget 1945

Photo: Schrøder / Trondheim byarkiv
Children celebrate in Trondheim on May 17, 1945. It was a very special Syttende Mai all over Norway.

Egil Oftedal
Escondido, Calif.

I remember May 8, 1945. I had heard that the German Occupation of Norway was over. I ran to downtown Sandnes, where I saw the German soldiers boarding a small boat in the Gandsfjord. In the middle of town, Norwegian resistance fighters had already taken over control and were giving orders.

On May 17, 1945, there was only one marching band in town, and I was lucky to have a dad who was the conductor of the band. He asked me to play the cymbals, and I remember how proud I was to be the only kid to play with the adults in Sverre Sigurdsson Musikk Korps.

Later in the day’s celebration, American and British soldiers joined in. The British sang “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary,” and the Americans had records of Glenn Miller and His Orchestra. This was the most wonderful music I had ever heard.

The next couple of nights I dreamt about immigrating to the United States to meet the fabulous Glenn Miller. I didn’t know then that Glenn Miller had been lost at sea.

Later, when I learned that thousands of American soldiers had lost their lives liberating Norway, I decided to volunteer for the American Army. I did so in Seattle on May 11, 1955, and was proud to celebrate the 17th of May that year at basic training Fort Carson, Colo.

Read about how the granddaughter of Egil Oftedal later served in the Norwegian military: www.norwegianamerican.com/heritage/an-american-woman-in-norways-military.

This article originally appeared in the May 3, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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