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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion — Its okay to outgrow your college friends
Opinion — It's okay to outgrow your college friends
Megan PoeApril 12, 2024

This Oct.9, everyone can be a Viking

Friday, Oct. 9 will mark the 45th anniversary of Leif Erikson Day being celebrated as a national holiday in the United States. Leif Erikson was a Norse explorer who is currently regarded by many historians to be the first European to set foot on North American soil. Erikson landed on Newfoundland in Canada nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus made his famed voyage.

When President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed Leif Erikson Day an annual observance on Oct. 9, 1964, he used it as an opportunity to commemorate the contributions made to American culture by Scandinavian immigrants and to celebrate the spirit of discovery and exploration. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, there are nearly 10.4 million Americans who claim some sort of Scandinavian ancestry being Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Icelandic.

Due to available work in timber and mining industries, the Upper Peninsula was a hub for Scandinavian immigration in the U.S. According to Central Upper Peninsula and NMU archives, in 1930 there were nearly 1,500 Swedish-born residents in Marquette alone.

This number doesn’t include the descendants of previous immigrants or other ethnic Scandinavians. Along with many other members of NMU, I myself proudly claim Scandinavian ancestry (by way of my Danish forefathers) and will be commemorating the holiday this Thursday.

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While I believe that it is important for Scandinavian Americans to remember their heritage, that certainly doesn’t mean that they should be the only ones. Leif Erikson Day should be observed not because of his “discovering” North America (indigenous peoples had certainly beaten him there by a long shot), but because of the sheer courage that it must have taken to guide a long-ship in the cold and icy waters of the north Atlantic toward a destination that might not even exist.

Therefore, as a proud Norse-American, I invite everyone to participate in celebrating the wondrous curiosity of the human spirit and the limitless potential of will and determination on Leif Erikson Day.
The idea of recognizing some elemental aspect in Leif Erikson Day can, and should be, applied to all other holidays. Whether it is self-determination, courage, cooperation or any other number of ideals, there is something about all of them that should be explored and appreciated by everyone.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day should be celebrated not only by African-Americans, but everyone as a day to remember a man who showed us, collectively, what can be done through peace and cooperation. The Latin-American holiday of The Day of the Dead can be celebrated not only as a time to appreciate Hispanic culture, but also to memorialize those among us who have passed and remember the miracle of life.

The melting-pot of America is made of many diverse cultures that should all be appreciated not only on their specific days of recognition but throughout the year. And while we Americans should continuously appreciate our heritage, it is certainly helpful to take a little time out of our days on these holidays and think about how the world would be different without the contributions that they commemorate.

So let us all celebrate this Leif Erikson Day in the spirit of exploration and discover something new about ourselves.

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