"We are all Norwegians Tonight"
Hundreds of people came out to the Nordic Heritage Museum on Tuesday, July 26, to mourn and pray for the many killed in the twin terrorist attacks in Norway and to stand with Norway in solidarity against terrorism.
In the auditorium, red, white and blue candles flickered as people crowded in, each candle marking an innocent life lost in Friday’s terrorist attacks in Oslo and the island of Utoeya.
After an opening prayer and the singing of the Norwegian National Anthem, Kim Nesselquist, Consul of Norway, thanked the people of Seattle for their support and numerous letters, flowers and phone calls received over the last few days.
“One hundred and ten hours ago, a bomb went off by the government building in downtown Oslo… eight innocent people were killed and many more seriously injury,” Nesselquist said as he recalled the horrific events.
“The blast was strong and broke storefront windows as far as 1,000 meters away and permanently ruined several of the office buildings occupied by the government,” Nesselquist continued.
“This already deadly afternoon quickly became much worse. At 5:30 p.m. there were reports that a man dressed in a police uniform was shooting at the young people attending the annual labor party summer camp at Utoeya, a small island about 30 minutes from Oslo. One hour later, the worst attack on Norway since World War II was over. A lone Norwegian terrorist was apprehended by the anti-terror police.”
Nesselquist said this horrific act of terror against “a peaceful, naive and open country” has left Norway in shock and “scrambling to cope with something that was unimaginable just minutes earlier.”
He was thankful for the many lives that were saved in Oslo by the fact that many Norwegians are on vacation this time of year and that most of those working in the government building had left early on a summer Friday afternoon.
But those on the island of Utoeya however, now have horrific stories of an hour spent “scrambling for their lives, jumping in cold water, hiding in the brush, even laying on top of each other to protect the youngest from a man that was shooting at anyone he could find,” Nesselquist said.
“Sixty-eight of them plus the many that are missing will not be able to tell their story. They are the story. They are the reason why 250,000 people filled the streets of Oslo last night…and the reason for us gathering in the Seattle tonight,” he said.
Nesselquist said Norway and the United States have many things in common including our constitution, our strong belief in democracy and freedom, and the five million of Norwegian heritage living in the U.S.
“On Friday we also share the horror and the terrifying consequences of terrorism. The attack hit Norway in its gut, just like it did here after the Oklahoma bombing and September 11. It’s the proof that terrorism knows no border and can hit anywhere and also from within,” he said.
“Norway and its people are now taking its time to mourn the lives lost, to find the missing, to let the many injured heal. After the mourning the time will come to learn from what happened and there is no doubt this will change Norway,” Nesselquist said.
Dr. Loren J. Anderson, President of the Pacific Lutheran University, also spoke of the similarities of Norway and the United States as he reflected on the events.
“We are all Norwegians because we share such a profound sense of both outrage and frustration, even anger and hopelessness of the events of last Friday,” Anderson said.
“We are all Norwegians tonight because our most sacred and important principles and values have been attacked and for a moment the foundation of our civilized democratic nations have been shaken.”
Both Nesselquist and Anderson said Norway will overcome the worst peacetime day in Norwegian history and rebuild a strong and open nation with the same determination that helped them recover from Nazi occupation during World War II.
“Norway, we want you to know that we share your loss and grief. We stand with you because we, like you, have in the past seen the heart of our democracy tested. We stand with you now as you mourn. We stand with you tomorrow as you move forward,” Anderson said in closing.
“And we stand with you in the days ahead as you rebuild that powerful sense of hope and possibility that so marks and so ennobles both of our great nations.”
Source: Ballard News Tribune