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Welcoming the "Islendingur" in Celebration of the Millennial Anniversary of Leif Ericson's Viking Voyage across the Atlantic

Representative Rosa L. DeLauro

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I stand today to welcome Ambassador Hannibalsson and the "Islendingur" to the New Haven Harbor as many gather to celebrate the millennial anniversary of Leif Ericson's voyage from Iceland across the North Atlantic to the shores of North America. The center of a long historical debate, the Viking Sagas come to life with an outstanding cultural exhibit and the arrival of the "Islendingur" — a replica of the Viking Ship "Gaukstadaskip" that sailed 1,000 years ago.

For centuries, the Vikings did not record their history in books. Instead they passed their culture, traditions, and stories generation to generation in oral sagas. Much of our knowledge of these courageous people comes from the written records of their European neighbors which, unfortunately, recounts only a 200-year history as raiders and plunderers. It is only in the past century that archeological digs have brought credit to the stories of the Norse expansion across the Atlantic — bringing a new fascination and excitement for this rich culture.

The most recent archeological work has revealed important evidence of the Viking expansion. Uncovering settlements, complex trade networks, and well-preserved artifacts has given us tremendous insight into the lives of the Vikings. Remarkable mariners, without maps or navigational equipment to chart a course, Viking captains, like Erik the Red and Leif Ericson, relied on their knowledge of the stars, sun, and the patterns of nature to guide them across the seas. When we look at the incredible accomplishments of the Icelandic people, we see a group that displayed unparalleled courage — leaving everything they knew to discover and explore new lands.

Throughout history, we have witnessed a unique quality in the human spirit, a drive to explore beyond what we know and understand, to travel into the unknown in search of new experiences. The Vikings embodied this drive and it is this spirit that we celebrate today. I am honored to rise today and join the Icelandic Millennium Commission and the New Haven community in commemorating this very special era of our history. My congratulations and best wishes to all.

[Taken from the Congressional Record, 25 September 2000, page E1578.]