As advertised, I was at Fort Snelling National Cemetery on Saturday morning, helping to dedicate a memorial to the men of the 99th Infantry Battalion (Separate), a World War II commando unit organized and trained for an invasion of Norway. Most of its members were either Norwegian merchant sailors stranded by the Occupation, or Norwegian-American boys. Requirements were Norwegian heritage, ability to speak the language, and the ability to ski.
Although the invasion never happened as such, they participated in commando actions (some of them became part of the legendary OSS), and participated in the battle for Europe. The man in the grave above died in 1944, probably in Belgium, where the unit saw fierce fighting.
I was asked to read an invocation for the ceremony, and then I helped place battalion flags on the graves of all the 99th members buried in the cemetery. A couple of my Viking friends came too, and I thank them. It was a moving occasion. No 99th veterans were present, but a couple of their widows were there, along with some descendants.
I mentioned earlier that I’ll be participating in the dedication of a war memorial at Fort Snelling Cemetery in Minneapolis this Saturday, May 25. The event will be in honor of the 99th Infantry Battalion (Separate) of which I’ve written several times before. I actually have no personal connection to the unit, except for ethnicity and historical interest. But they’ve invited me to give the invocation, and I will be doing that. In Viking costume.
To see a local TV report on the event and on the unit itself, follow this link.
Today is Syttende Mai, Constitution Day, Norway’s foremost national celebration. I have my Norwegian flag flying at my house, as is my wont when the weather permits on this date. There are rumors of rain, but so far so good.
If you’re in the Twin Cities area, and longing for a chance to look on my kindly visage (now that Grumpy Cat has left us), there are a couple opportunities coming up.
This Sunday I’ll be at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis for the Vikings Family Day. It was supposed to be outside, but it’s looking like weather will drive us indoors. I’ll have books to sell, if you can find me. 12:00 to 5:00 p.m.
And on Saturday, May 25, I’ll be at Fort Snelling Cemetery for the dedication of the new memorial to the 99th Infantry Battalion (Separate). The time will be 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.