The strenuous life

It was quite a weekend. By an old bachelor’s standards, anyway. I take some pride in having got through it with my natural force unabated.

Saturday was the big event at Camp Ripley (believe it or not), Little Falls, Minn., for the 75th anniversary of the activation of the 99th Infantry Battalion (Separate), the US Army’s Norwegian “foreign legion” in World War II. The festivities actually began the day before and continued through the evening, but I was only there Saturday afternoon. (That doesn’t mean I wasn’t invited to do more; I was. But I had to get home and unload my car for the following day’s exertions.)

Saturday afternoon was the public event. Besides us Vikings, there was an informational booth explaining about the unit’s history. There was also a small encampment of World War II reenactors:

[A photo belongs here, but our account doesn’t seem to allow posting from Photobucket anymore.]

Nice guys. Had some interesting conversations. These are history people, and Vikings were not outside their range of interest.

Also talked to members of the public, gently attempting, in many cases, to correct misconceptions they’ve picked up from the History Channel series. One fellow was surprised to learn the Vikings had mail armor. Listened to a woman tell how her great-uncle was killed by an exploding shell while shaving, right after receiving the surrender of a large number of German soldiers.

But it was all enjoyable, and fully three other Vikings from my group were there in support, more than I expected. So I consider it a successful day. Sold some books, too.

Sunday I was up early to drive down to Kenyon, my home town, for the Walker family reunion. Church was at 9:00, but I was late. A bridge had gone out on Highway 56, and the detour was not marked. Roads on the Great Plains are generally laid out in one-mile by one-mile sections, so making a detour isn’t a great challenge (even for Norwegians). But A River Runs Through this particular neighborhood (hence the bridge, I suppose), and the grid isn’t always consistent. I finally found my way to my home church, though, and had no problem finding a seat. A very moving sermon was delivered by a missionary, the husband of a second cousin’s granddaughter.

The reunion itself was on a farm which once belonged to one of Dad’s cousins. His kids own it, but no one’s lived on it for a while. But they have a nice area cleared in the orchard, and they set up sun awnings – which came in handy when it started to rain. We were worried the turnout would be poor until the heavens opened, and then Walkers and their kin began running in like animals to the Ark.

The reunion was good. Bittersweet, as reunions always are. A few new faces – young children and new fiancés – and a few old faces missing. Another frame in the time lapse film of our lives.

I was given a new memento – my great-grandfather’s personal Bible. There are some notes and bits of paper in it, but it doesn’t seem to contain any great secrets, beyond those inherent in the sacred text. But I’ll keep it with the old man’s lap desk, as a family relic.

And finally I drove home. This week I’m taking a stay-cation. By my lights, I’ve earned it.

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