This trip to Iceland was mostly a research trip for our ancestors from the Skagafjörður. Wow – did I ever find out a lot of information. I stayed for 8 days in Hofsós at the home of the late Bill Holm and volunteered in the North Dakota exhibit at the Emigration Center in between my exploring, driving, and researching. The librarian at the Safnahúsið in Sauðárkrókur was brilliant and had access to many original documents of my family that lived in the town of Sauðárkrókur. It was well worth every minute that I spent looking through records and his assistance was invaluable.
The Icelandic National League of Iceland (Þjóðræknisfélag Íslendinga) Convention was held in Hofsós. I gave a presentation called, “The Love of Iceland in America.”
With over 500 photos that showed on the big screen in 23 minutes, I shared stories that showed how our connections remain strong between Iceland and North America. I shared stories of the Icelanders in the USA but also included our many initiatives and organizations that we share on both sides of the border. Also featured were the Snorri Programs and how this connection has changed so many lives.
My message was that even though our ancestors left their beloved homeland, they did not leave behind their heritage, their memories of home, or their love of Iceland. They passed this down to us and we continue the traditions and heritage in many ways including preserving their churches and monuments, holding events and celebrations, working together with the international Icelandic National Leagues — one in North America and the other in Iceland, the Lögberg-Heimskringla newspaper, and much more.
Because we were in Hofsós, which is in the Skagafjörður, I included a lot of information about my ancestors that had lived there. My great-grandfather (Lang Afi), Guðmundur Júlíus Jónasson, lived a long life and I knew him the best. He lived until I was 22 years old. I ended the presentation with the following lines:
“May God bless our descendants and may the noble, independent spirits of our ancestors live on in them and with our work here in Iceland and together throughout the world we live in, may we always continue to share the ‘Love of Iceland.’
Lang Afi Guðmundur passed down to his descendants his Love of Iceland through stories, music, reading, and poetry. I would like to end my presentation with one of his poems.
Skagafjörður skrýddur vors í blóma
þig skáldin hafa mörgum sinnum dáð
Hvar málað hafa í verki ljóðs þinn ljóma
en í ljóðin sín ei hálfri fegurð náð
Það er trý mín æskuvinur góði
þér ekkert fegra dauðlaegt auga sér.
Skáld má ekki í orði eða ljóði
þitt allt að mála, skraut og tign sem ber.
(I read the poem in Icelandic. Several people helped me to work on it. Thanks to Kent Lárus Björnsson, Almar Grímsson, and Sveinn Einarsson for their patience and assistance. Later that night, I read the translation of the poem during the Snorri event. Before I left for Iceland, David Gislason — the Farmer Poet — translated it for me. I did not think that I would dare recite it in Icelandic for the convention. Even though my Icelandic is atrocious, the Icelanders in attendance seemed to appreciate my efforts. I need to continue working on my Icelandic speaking skills. Here below is the translation in English, thanks to David.)
Skagafjörður dressed in springtime fragrance
The poets have often praised you so,
by painting in poetic ode your radiance,
But in their works, not captured half your glow.
It´s my belief, my source of life-long rapture,
more beauty never mortal eye shall see.
In words and rhythm, poets cannot capture
the fullness of your grace and dignity.”