Public Papers - 1991
Proclamation 6342 -- Leif Erikson Day, 1991
By˙7E˙7E the˙7E˙7E President˙7E˙7E of˙7E˙7E the˙7E˙7E United˙7E˙7E States of America
Each October, Americans of all ages join in commemorating the voyages of Leif Erikson, the daring son of Iceland and grandson of Norway who explored the North American coast nearly a millennium ago, and, in so doing, charted a course for generations of Europeans to follow. However, on this occasion, we celebrate more than the remarkable journeys of Leif Erikson and his fellow Norse adventurers. We also celebrate the enduring ties of friendship that exist between the people of the United States and our friends in northern Europe.
Leif Erikson was part of a long line of Norse explorers who braved the vast waters of the Atlantic for the sake of their people's future. His father, Eric the Red, had led the first group of Europeans to colonize Greenland. According to the Icelandic Saga of Eric, young ``Leif the Lucky'' returned to Norway in the year 1000, and there became a convert to Christianity. When he was later commissioned by King Olaf I to carry the faith back to Greenland, the young navigator once again took to the high seas. Thus, over the course of several generations, Leif Erikson and his fellow Norsemen ventured from their ancestral homeland to places such as the British Isles, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, and eventually North America.
Although the first Norse settlements on this continent did not become permanent, the voyages of Leif Erikson and other Norse explorers had a lasting impact on the development of the Western world. These pioneers presaged a later era of discovery that has included other great navigators such as Christopher Columbus, Magellan, and Sir Francis Drake, as well as latter-day explorers like Roald Amundsen, who was the first man to reach the South Pole. Of course, we know that the spirit of daring and discovery continues to thrive today. The fascinating work of our astronauts and engineers, the painstaking research of our physicians, archeologists, and other scientists -- all reflect the timeless appeal of exploration and learning.
Among those who have kept alive the bold, industrious spirit of Leif Erikson are Americans who trace their roots to the Nordic countries. Immigrants from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden have greatly enriched this country, not only through their unique customs and traditions, but also through their commitment to educational achievement and good government. Today, as we celebrate our Nordic American heritage with a series of special events -- including a gala reenactment of the first Norse voyage to these shores -- we also reaffirm our mutually rewarding ties with the countries of northern Europe.
In honor of Leif Erikson and our Nordic American heritage, the Congress, by joint resolution approved on September 2, 1964 (78 Stat. 849, 36 U.S.C. 169c), has authorized and requested the President to proclaim October 9 of each year as ``Leif Erikson Day.''
Now, Therefore, I, George Bush, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 9, 1991, as Leif Erikson Day, and I direct the appropriate government officials to display the flag of the United States on all government buildings on that day. I also encourage the people of the United States to observe this occasion by learning more about our rich Nordic American heritage and the early history of our continent.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-seventh day of September, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and sixteenth.
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 3:29 p.m., September 27, 1991]
Note: This proclamation was published in the Federal Register on October 1.