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We the People

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Politics and civil commentary with community columnist John Eyster.

TODAY is SYTTENDE MAI, the Norwegian CONSTITUTION Day, NOT independence day!

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John Eyster
Tuesday, May 17, 2011

TODAY is SYTTENDE MAI, the Norwegian CONSTITUTION Day, NOT independence day!

I was SHOCKED when I heard the MISunderstanding of the meaning of “SYTTENDE MAI” – the major national holiday in NORWAY which is widely celebrated throughout the Norwegian-American community in the USA including our own neighbor, the City of STOUGHTON with its annual SYTTENDE MAI WEEKEND on WISCONSIN PUBLIC RADIO over the weekend!

I alerted readers of my WE THE PEOPLE blog to the STOUGHTON SYTTENDE MAI WEEKEND “SYTTENDE MAI WEEKEND in STOUGHTON” last Friday, the 13th of May.

And then I was VERY HAPPY to see the excellent video by Glen Loyd from the SYTTENDE MAI WEEKEND in STOUGHTON attesting, “Norwegian Dancers are strong as well as graceful” showing-off the Stoughton Norwegian Dancers. You can use this link to watch these STRONG & GRACEFUL NORWEGIAN folk dancers!

TODAY SYTTENDE MAI (the 17th of May) is NORWEGIAN CONSTITUTION DAY and NOT a celebration of independence. Having lived, worked, studied, taught and traveled widely throughout NORWAY, my wife (Marilyn) and I make it a point to celebrate SYTTENDE MAI! Do you celebrate SYTTENDE MAI too? On March 17 – St. Patrick’s Day – it is claimed, “Everyone is IRISH or wishes s/he were!” I assert that today – SYTTENDE MAI – it is also true, “Everyone is NORWEGIAN or wishes s/he were!” Here we go…

Let’s review the history of SYTTENDE MAI: On May 17, 1814, after ratification by the national assembly organized by the independence movement on May 16, the new CONSTITUTION for NORWAY was signed. The reality that this CONSTITUTION came in context with a very strong movement in NORWAY for INDEPENDENCE from SWEDEN. Unable to gain international support forced NORWAY after a short war to negotiate with SWEDEN. NORWAY was allowed to keep its own CONSTITUTION, but had to accept the KING OF SWEDEN as its monarch. For more historical information and perspective, read, “Constitution of Norway” in Wikipedia.

This meant that NORWAY was subservient to SWEDEN under the KING of SWEDEN. The vision of and movement for INDEPENDENCE continued and was AT LONG LAST brought to fruition on June 7, 1905 when, having revoked the Constitutional amendments which ended the “personal union” with the King of Sweden, the NORWEGIAN PARLIAMENT took action to create an INDEPENDENT NORWAY with its own KING. This is a very complicated and interesting process with democratic ideas and processes pressing the whole process.

NORWAY did gain its own KING! The Parliament invited Prince Carl of Denmark to become KING. Understanding the NORWEGIAN movement toward democracy, he said he would consider becoming the KING only after a REFERENDUM of the PEOPLE of NORWAY to vote on whether they wanted a REPUBLIC or a CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY.

The PEOPLE of NORWAY voted 79% for the CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY. Prince Carl accepted election as KING of NORWAY. He and his family came to NORWAY. He was the MORE popular when he chose the historic name of NORWEGIAN kings, “HAAKON” and became King Haakon VII of Norway. King Haakon VII took the OATH as monarch on November 25, 1905 - 2 days after he arrived in Norway from Denmark. King Haakon VII was crowned KING of NORWAY at NIDAROSDOMEN (the cathedral in Trondheim) on June 22, 1906. Again, there are numerous interesting facets of the whole process, so I encourage you to read more in Wikipedia, “Haakon VII of Norway.”

June 7, 1905 became the Norwegian INDEPENDENCE DAY from Sweden. It is NOT really given any attention in Norway because it was really NOT a HUGE event. Yes, NORWAY gained its own KING and he was CORONATED on June 22, 1906 although he took the OATH as KING on November 25, 1905 2 days after arriving in Norway from Denmark.

This is a VERY interesting process with the KEY DEMOCRATIC PROCESS when Prince Carl of Denmark whom NORWAY asked to become KING of NORWAY refused to accept until a REFERENDUM was held asking the NORWEGIAN PEOPLE whether they wanted a REPUBLIC or a CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY. WOW! 79% of the Norwegian voters supported the CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY! Prince Carl was selected and accepted to become KING of NORWAY. So, TODAY - SYTTENDE MAI - is the KEY NATIONAL HOLIDAY in NORWAY! I did read the Aftenposten - a major Oslo newspaper in Norwegian to find out how things are going in NORWAY on this SYTTENDE MAI. IF you want to see my summary w/pictures - OPEN the attached file. NORWEGIANS love their Royal Family!

KING HAAKON VII died on September 21, 1957 and his son, OLAV V became king. When KING OLAV V died on January 17, 1991, his son, HARALD V became the KING.

Harald V is the KING OF NORWAY today and is very popular. HIS family is beloved among NORWEGIANS.

King Harald V’s son, Haakon Magnus (b. 1973) is next in line to the throne. If you want to learn more about the future king of Norway, read “Haakon, Crown Prince of Norway” in Wikipedia.

He has one sister, Martha Louise (b. 1971). She is ELIGIBLE to become QUEEN after her brother due to a change in Norwegian law in 1990. Females born to the ROYAL FAMILY after 1990 have FULL recognition to become the QUEEN in order of birth. In this transition, Haakon Magnus will become KING. Again, for more information, read “Princess Martha Louise of Norway” in Wikipedia using this link.

IF you want to see today’s NEWS directly from NORWAY, read “Views and News from Norway” online. This is the ENGLISH resource.

Since Marilyn and I read and speak NORWEGIAN, we read AFTENPOSTEN – a major newspaper in Oslo. IF you want to see the beautiful pictures in AFTENPOSTEN from SYTTENDE MAI today in OSLO and/or read the NORWEGIAN reports, use this link AFTENPOSTEN online.

TODAY – NORWEGIAN CONSTITUTION DAY – SYTTENDE MAI – is the day on which to be mindful of and grateful for the ENRICHMENT of OUR AMERICN CULTURE by NORWEGIAN immigrants. Let’s realize that our whole American culture has been enriched, enhanced, improved with the diversity which immigrants throughout our American history have contributed.

I URGE that we maintain awareness of and support for IMMIGRATION for the benefit of our American culture TODAY! I believe President Obama is taking very important UPbuilding steps to provide for an appropriate and reasonable response to IMMIGRATION into the US today. I agree with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s editorial, “Immigration Push” today.

Note the conclusion of this EDITORIAL, “True reform is needed. "The United States will find it far more difficult to maintain its competitive edge if it excludes those who are able and willing to help us compete," the president said.

“He's right. Now, if only he would fight harder for this sensible policy.”

What is YOUR perspective?

Jeg onsker dere alle, “GOD SYTTENDE MAI!” (Norwegian = I wish YOU ALL, “Good 17th of May!”)

Ha det bra! (Have it good!) Here we go…

Mr. E.


Last updated: 10:50 am Wednesday, August 28, 2013

John W. Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor assigned with the online/distance education faculty of Viterbo University, LaCrosse. He continues his personal mission supporting democracy/civics education in Wisconsin K-12 schools through Project Citizen, We the People, Discovering Democracy (Milton HS). John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff or management.


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