Úlfar Bragason: „Sing, oh thou free nation, thy song of liberty“
Unnur Benediktsdóttir Bjarklind (1881–1946), whose pen-name was “Hulda”, was awarded a prize for her poem Söngvar helgaðir þjóðhátíðardegi Íslands 17. júní 1944 (Songs Dedicated to Iceland’s National Day, 17 June 1944), which was recited for the first time on 17 June 1944, the day when the Republic of Iceland was ceremonially founded at Þingvellir, the ancient parliamentary site. The poem is patriotic in tone, with the emphasis on freedom and the Icelandic nation’s struggle to throw off foreign rule: “Svo aldrei framar Íslands byggð/ sé öðrum þjóðum háð” (So Iceland may never more/ be dependent on other nations). On 18 June 1944 the Icelandic Society in Chicago celebrated the occasion with a social gathering, at which industrialist Paul J. Halldorson (1883–1964) delivered a speech on “Iceland’s Unique Destiny” to mark the birth of the republic. In his speech he recounted the history of the Icelanders, and contemplated the future of the Republic of Iceland from an American perspective. Jón Halldórsson (1838–1919), Paul’s father, was one of the first Icelandic immigrants to the United States. In 1872 he went to Milwaukee in Wisconsin, and in 1874 he settled in Nebraska. Jón was a friend of Benedikt Jónsson of Auðnir (1846–1939), Hulda’s father, and the two men corresponded for many years. The attitudes expressed in Hulda’s celebratory poem are compared with Paul’s views in his speech – views from home and abroad.
Keywords: The West-Icelanders’ attitudes towards Iceland, identity of West-Icelanders, liberty of Icelanders, republic