Utahns Celebrate Norway's Centennial

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Kim Johnson ReportingThe kingdom of Norway is one hundred years old this year. And since there are more Americans claiming Norwegian heritage than Norwegian citizens themselves, centennial celebrations will be held all over the U.S. Utah will have the first such celebration.

The coordinator for Norway's Centennial Celebrations flew here for Utah's celebration of Norway's independence from Sweden in 1905. Bendik Rugaas met with Gov. John Huntsman Jr. this morning.

Gov. Jon Huntsman: “Let me just tell you what an honor it is to be with you here and celebrate a population that came into our state roughly 100 years ago an contributed enormously to the well-being of our state.”

A handful of Utahns of Norwegian descent were on hand to see the Governor sign a declaration congratulating Norway.

Bendik Rugaas, Norwegian Centennial: “This is the most appropriate place to start the whole thing off. And when I was met by all you people wearing national costumes and colors and all, that was really moving.”

Rugaas then visited the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where he got to see some of the church's oldest documents, once belonging to Norwegian converts. And then lunch with prominent Utahns of Norwegian heritage, some of whom still speak their mother tongue.

Erlend Peterson, Brigham Young Univ.: “For the past 15 years I’ve been bringing guests here from Norway that have included their very top recognized inner circle of people.”

Bendik Rugaas: “You could safely say that every day in this year there will be an event focusing on the good relations between Norway and the United States.”

Utah's Centennial celebration will be held tomorrow at the Assembly Hall on Temple Square.

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