The date of June 17th, was not a random choice, but was well chosen ! June 17th is the date of birth of Jon Sigurdsson who is considered one of their heroes in their years of struggle to gain their independence from foreign rule. 201 years ago, in 1811, Jon was born on a farm in Hrafnseyri in what is known as the Westfjords. His father, Sigurdur Jonsson, was a pastor. Jon studied hard in school, and in 1833 he moved to Denmark to continue his studies in Copenhagen. Before he left he proposed marriage to his cousin Ingibijorg Einarsdottir. Curiously even though the proposal was accepted they did not marry until 1845.
Upon his return to Iceland Jon was elected MP for the county of Isafjordur, and went to the now restored Althing for the first time to represent his people. In 1851 he led the resistance group that opposed the Gundlov which Denmark had introduced in 1849 and very much wanted to have approved. The Grundlov was neve accepted, and finally in 1874 Iceland was allowed to have a minimal constitution for the first time, and allowed to control their own internal affairs. Before this the Althing had no real power, and could only advise the Danish king.
Jon held his seat in the Althing for his whole life, and only missed 4 sessions of the Althing during his tenure. He died in 1879, ironically in Copenhagen, Denmark, the country that he was fighting against for freedom. Still beloved to this day he is called by some Jon Forseti, ( Jon the president ), a reference to his being president of the Icelandic Literature Society where he did a great deal of work on Icelandic writings, including the Eddas and the Sagas. His image has been added to their currency, the 500 Kronur, ( I still have several from my trip to Iceland in 2009 ), and periodically his image appears on their stamps as well.
I raise my horn in praise and honor for the great Republic of Iceland, and of course its wonderful people*, on their day of independence. And I raise my horn in special tribute to a great man of literature and freedoms, Jon Sigurdsson. May his independent spirit always remain with the great people of Iceland !
* When I traveled there in 2009 I was curious how an American would be treated there. They were extremely nice people, who seemed more like friends than strangers. They love conversation, and I will never forget a jogger who passed me as I was going to one of their art museums. He said something in Icelandic, probably good morning, and when I answered in english good morning he jogged backwards a few steps, smiled a huge smile, and said in perfect english, " good morning " ! They are a wonderful people !
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love, and Thor's protection !