Yes, We Love This Land

Hurra for syttende mai! Happy 17th of May!

Good travel is all about being in the right place at the right time, and today, May 17th, the right place for me is Norway’s capital: Oslo.

What better day to be here than on Constitution Day, the country’s national holiday, celebrating Norway’s independence? As I write this, I am surrounded by hundreds of thousands of happy Norwegians dressed in their national costume, eating hot dogs, licking ice cream and sipping beer … and singing!

No matter that I speak not the language, I have learned Norway’s national anthem by heart simply by hearing it over and over again since early this morning. Naturally, it’s a beautiful and touching hymn to a country that I am just now getting acquainted with, which boldly announces: Ja, vi elsker dette landet, (“Yes we love this land!”)

Sitting in the center of such an outpouring of Norwegian patriotism–having just witnessed the mother of all national parades and spotted several million Norwegian flags–I, too, feel a swell of pride and affection for this great Scandinavian nation.

No matter that I’ve been here less than 48 hours; no matter that I am a proud, patriotic, born-in-Texas American. I have been so touched by the enthusiasm and joyful celebration I have seen in Oslo today that I gladly add my voice to their chorus, and say, “Hey, I love Norway, too.”