One month ago today, we were staring at each other in shock and disbelieve. Norway had been struck by a national tragedy. The kind of calamity that we hoped would never happen here, had somehow taken place. The tragedy in Oslo and on Utøya Island was so devastating, so unheard of and so unbelievably.
These past weeks we have seen the funerals of 77 people, the majority of them were under the age of eighteen. They were 77 individuals who wanted to use their lives in the best way possible for the society of which they were a part. Through stories in the media and the eulogies given in their memory, we have been able to learn a little bit about each of those who died.
Both as individuals and as a nation it will take us a long time to digest and work our way through what we have witnessed, our grief and our feelings. We have and will continue to need each other in this process.
Yesterday there was a National Memorial Ceremony in Oslo. The ceremony was being broadcast live and included speeches by King Harald and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. The names of the victims were read by five prominent Norwegian actors.
The victims’ families were joined by survivors, government ministers, and the police and emergency services workers who dealt with the attacks. Leading politicians and royals from neighbouring countries was also in the audience.
The ceremony at the Spektrum Arena marks the end of a month of mourning for the 77 victims, and I believe that we as a nation are starting to be ready to move on. The grief is now more personal, the families that have lost their loved ones need to get their privacy. We will be there, when someone needs to talk or cry, but I hope that we will be able to return to a more normal life. However, things will never be quite the same. And we have among us hundreds of young people who survived the attacks at Utøya Island. They are starting schools and universities these days, trying to move on. They will never forget, and their friends that died will never be forgotten.
The one that we should forget is the one responsible for all this. He has said that he rather will be hated than forgotten. So we will ignore him as much as possible.
Yesterday, I had my two nephews age six and eight in my car, when they started to talk about him. “Now he is in prison, “the oldest one said, “and he don’t get any food” I melded into the conversation and explained that Norway is a democracy and we do give our prisoners food. However I said,” they keep him in solitary confinement, so he has no visitors and no post or e-mail.” “Yes,” the youngest one said,” and he doesn’t have any toilet paper! “
Our children have this past month taken part in the grief and the mourning, and they have been involved in putting down roses and lightning candles. Because this happened in the middle of the holidays it has been the parents and other family members that have tried to explain and help them understand what we couldn’t understand ourselves.
Children are strait to the point. They don’t think he deserve food and toilet paper, and this is a though way to learn about human rights. But they listen, and they accepted my explanations. In the end we agreed on one thing:
He is a nobody that tried to be somebody by killing anybody.
And I repeated the end of king Harald speech:
I firmly believe that freedom is stronger than fear.
I firmly believe in an open Norwegian democracy and society
I firmly believe that we will uphold our ability to live freely and securely in our own country