Norway presented an 11th century Viking battle axe taken from its National Historical Museum to the people of the United States in a ceremony at the State Department in Washington, D.
Governor Rolvaag introduces Minnesota Erickson, Ambassador Engen introduces Norwegian Eriksen, presentation of battle axe to Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Rusk presents axe to Rolvaag.
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Background: Norway presented an 11th century Viking battle axe taken from its National Historical Museum to the people of the United States in a ceremony at the State Department in Washington, D.C. on Friday (9 October). Young Leif Eriksen, a 16 year old high school student from Sarpsborg, presented the axe to U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk. He assured Mr. Rusk that the weapon had not been used for centuries.
The presentation commemorated Leif Erikson Day proclaimed by President Lyndon Johnson honouring the discovery of North America by Vikings some 500 years before Christopher Columbus.
In addition to official representatives of Norway, Governor Karl Rolvaag of the state of Minnesota and a sizeable contingent of Minnesotans of Norwegian descent were on hand including 17 year old Leif Erickson of Moorhead, Minnesota.
The Minnesota Leif was presented by Governor Rolvaag. Then Norway's Ambassador to the United States Hans K. Engen presented the Sarpsborg Leif, bearing the battle axe. The Norwegian boy presented it to Mr. Rusk, who thereupon presented it to Governor Rolvaag who will display the weapon in Minnesota for a month before returning it to Washington.
The Norwegian Erikson, wearing the national costume of Hallingdal, told Mr. Rusk, "It is a good thing we can share our hero with you." He said the axe was "a national treasure to remind you of the first Europeans who came" to the United States.
The various Eriksen's involved caused reporters no little confusion. Norway's Leif spells his name "Eriksen. The American Leif spells his "Erickson". And the name of the Viking adventurer who started it all is usually spelled "Erikson". Neither 20th century youth claimed direct descent from the explorer.