Updated: Feb 8
At Icelandic Roots, we love following the stories of people because they are so important. We hope you are writing down the stories of your family. Ieda Herman is a wonderful author and 91-year-old adventurer that we follow. Read a short story about her emigration and arrival into America. It is a small excerpt from Chapter 35 in her memoir of growing up in Iceland and emigrating to America as a WWII War-bride.
Seeing the Statue of Liberty as I watched the Draken Harald Harfagre sail into the New York Harbor (in the recent news) I was reminded of my reaction as the troopship, USS MERAK, approached the wonderful Statue of Liberty in June of 1945…WWII had just ended.
I was on my way to Amerika as an Icelandic WWII War-bride….On the second day, I’d decided I’d changed my mind. I didn’t want to go to Amerika after all. I didn’t want to leave the only home I had ever known. But how in the world was I going to get back? Miserable, I tottered back up to the deck and leaned over the side of the rail. Nothing but ocean and sky met my eyes.
Suddenly, my heart started hammering at the sight of familiar white spray shoot up into the air as a pod of whales cavorted in the ocean. Then two dolphins followed us. They swept up and down in the wake of the troopship. After a short time, they all turned and headed north, it was as if a line had been drawn in the water. The whales and the dolphins were gone. They’d just said “Goodbye.”
On the fifth day of traveling on the Atlantic with nothing to see but the ocean and the heavens, I noticed that the air was much warmer, the sky bluer, and the sun hotter. Even the sea was calmer than I was used to. Feverish activity aboard ship began. Everything was being “spit” polished and shined. Whistling and smiling sailors began scrubbing and hosing down the deck with new enthusiasm and energy.
We would be arriving in America in the morning.
I was up at sunrise, eager, but at the same time very scared as I thought of what was ahead of me….
The immense Statue of Liberty loomed magnificently against the cloudless, vivid blue sky.Her right hand thrust up into the air holding a beacon of light and her left hand clasped a book to her chest. In the background towered rows of the tallest buildings, I had ever seen. No mountains, just black and glass and one massive skyscraper after another. My jaws clamped tight. THIS was scary!
If you would like to follow Ieda on her blog or buy one of her books, click on this link: http://iedaherman.blogspot.com/.
If you or your family member emigrated to America, please send us your name and emigration year so we can preserve your emigration information into the IR Database. If you want to know more about our shared Icelandic story — come join the fun at www.IcelandAncestry.com