Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Norway July 22nd 2011

In order to move on with my blog, I have to write about the emotional turmoil me (and lots of others) have been through lately here in Norway. I have spent most of July on vacation in the USA. Last Friday the 22nd of July I attended a beautiful wedding in Wisconsin. I heard at that time that there had been a bomb in Oslo. My sister's office is only 100 m away from the bomb site. It took me a few seconds to remember that she was on vacation, not starting work again before the following Monday. I did not get much more information at that time, since I had no internet or TV available.
The next morning I woke up by a text message, and immediately called my mother. Utøya is only a few miles away from where I grew up and where my parents live. I was in total chock. My father had jumped in his boat and had taken the police to the island since the police boat did not run. He picked up kids from the back of the island before they had verified that there were only one terrorist. He worked with transporting to and from the island. The next day he helped guard the island, trying to prevent journalists from entering.

It was awful to be so far away when such horrible events occurred. I was happy to be home again last Wednesday, thinking I would be able to participate in the grief and heal. But I have not watched much TV or read many newspapers; the events are just too awful. It is hard to sleep.

Last Friday I visited my parents, and they told me additional information about the events at Utøya. It had not only been random shootings, but a stage of terrible psychological torture not imaginable for most people, like scenes from the worst computer games. The terrorist is such a coward; he did not even commit suicide at the end. And now he is in prison making demands for his cooperation. He makes me sick. He is a nobody.

Before the terrorist was apprehended at Utøya, the professional help was held back at Elstangen, a mile away on the mainline. In the time period until the terrorist was apprehended, the people living along the mainland, campers at the close by Utvika campground and other private people in the area did a heroic job trying to rescue the kids on the island. The kids also heroically helped each other, my father told me about one kid who had swam the 550 yards to mainline pulling his injured friend along. Is it correct to hold back professional help, even when it makes inexperienced locals do the dangerous rescue work? Is this a common practice also in other countries?

Utøya will never be the same. Many people insist on rebuilding the island to what it was before, otherwise the terrorist will win. Would you go camping on an island where 69 young people where killed, many more injured and tortured? Would you send your kids there for summer camp? I would suggest using it as a memorial ground. Maybe a long time down the road (20 years?) it can be used for a multi-cultural center.
The terrorist was a right-wing anti-Muslim extremist (not the opposite as Fox News indicated).We has a multi-cultural society in Norway, which will not change. The question is how we can live together in a healthy and productive society.
My deepest condolences go to the families and friends of the causalities. 77*RIP.Thank you to all that help reduced the damages of the tragedy. Warm wishes to those injured physically and mentally.


flowersandhome said...

Hi Mona; the whole event has just completely shocked me too, like it has so many people all over the world, but being a Norwegian and having lived so near the place where it all happened, must even be worse, I can only imagine... We have children the age of the children that were on the island... it's so unbelievable, so unreal... How is something so horrible possible...
About what has to happen to the island... It immediately reminded me of the question years ago, before I even was born, about Ypres and wheather it should be rebuilt or stay the way it was, totally destroyed by world war I. It has been rebuilt but it's also become so much a symbol of peace and of remembrance and of "never again". Maybe the island can be a bit of that too.
Wishing you and every Norwegian lots of strength and courage.
What your father and many others did, was so courageous and heroic, respect!

knitnetty said...

Det finnes ikke ord for disse grusomheter.
Du må være stolt av faren din og takknemmelig for at søsteren din ikke var på jobb.
Og ellers er jeg enig med deg vedrørende tankene dine rundt Utøyas fremtid.
Klem fra Wenche