More than just flags and lutefisk

A message from your editor

Photo: Kristi Bissell
Editor-in-chief Lori Ann Reinhall sat down with U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar at Norway House on Oct. 15.

Dear readers and friends,

It was a crisp sunny day in Minneapolis on Oct. 15, when the new addition to Norway House was officially opened by Queen Sonja of Norway. The queen’s presence heightened the sense of excitement for the large crowd that had gathered. But for me, there was another somewhat unexpected highlight when I was invited to sit down one-on-one with U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

I learned that while she cannot claim any Norwegian ancestry, Klobuchar is a very good friend of Norway. “Norway is one of our best friends,” she said. In our conversation, she stressed the importance of this friendship over and over again.

“This was a very important moment for Minnesota,” Klobuchar said. “Norway House is a gathering place for what Norway does best: dialogue and freedom of expression. This how you further democracy.”

The senator also underlined the importance of cultural exchange. “There is hard and soft diplomacy,” she said. “Norway House will be a place where all this will take place.”

She was excited that the new event center will provide more space for larger gatherings. With Norway House’s inner-city location with the historic 100-year-old Mindekirken directly across from it, there is a symbolic connection or transition of past and present.

“You have to remember the past and look to the future,” Klobuchar said. “Our countries fought together in World War II, creating a strong bond. And today, the transatlantic alliance is just as important as ever. We are working together on important issues, climate change, for example, Arctic issues … It is about more than just flags and lutefisk.”

In this context, Klobuchar underlined the importance of the exchange between the Minnesota National Guard and the Norwegian Home Guard, in which Norwegian soldiers come to Minnesota for training. This program has been in place for over 49 years.

Photo: Coppersmith Photography
The American and Norwegian flags fly proudly on the Norway House plaza with historic Mindekirken.

I briefly mentioned the trip I made last summer to Eidsvoll in Norway, where I learned more about the influence our U.S. Constitution had on the Norwegian Constitution signed there on May 17, 1814.

“We share common values,” she said. “There is a strong bond between us with deep roots. We understand each other.”

Finally, our conversation turned to a topic close to Sen. Klobuchar’s heart­ and my own: journalism. Her father was a newspaperman, and she understands the value of the press in strengthening a democracy. I was happy to learn more about the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act to allow news organizations to jointly negotiate fair terms for access to their content by Google, Facebook, and other dominant platforms—a very good idea.

I was proud to share a little about the history of our newspaper, The Norwegian American, publishing since May 17, 1889. As a program of Norway House, we honor the past, celebrate the present, and look forward to the future. It is our common goal to strengthen the friendship between Norway and the United States for many years to come.

With this, I dedicate this issue to Queen Sonja and all my colleagues and friends at Norway House and Mindekirken—congratulations on a wonderful grand opening and celebration of your ongoing commitment to our greater Norwegian-American community!

Lori Ann

This article originally appeared in the November 4, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Lori Ann Reinhall

Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief of The Norwegian American, is a multilingual journalist and cultural ambassador based in Seattle. She is the president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association, and she serves on the boards of several Nordic organizations.