Yesterday was July 22nd.
A year ago Norway lost her innocence to a terrorist that day. He hurt us by attacking all we hold for dear and sacred. He bombed the government building and killed 8 people there. It happened only 500 meters away from the Royal Castle. He came dressed as a policeman, went over to an island with a car filled with weapon and for two hours he chased and slaughtered 69 youths there. There were no weapons on the island. One policeman was present as an unarmed, voluntary guard, He was among the first who was slaughtered in front of the eyes of his son, 11.
Our little family were away for a theater weekend in Rosendal. It took awhile until the news reached us in its full horror.
The day after, the 23rd, the little town was all silent and awestruck.
It rained. We went up to the Barony and did the only thing sensible to us, photographing. Trying to catch the sinister mood.
In all towns of Norway people gathered in silence in front of churches and town halls, placing candles, roses and greetings to express their sorrow. Every county in the land had lost some of their priceless youths. The horrors the survivors could tell about were simply too hard to understand.
Did someone fail? Many, I guess. The police and the armed forces in particular, but also the politicians responsible for making anti-terror plans in general.
The terrorist was one of our own. A right extremist who in his wicked, reckless way wanted to keep Norway "clean and Aryan".
Some did grow beyond belief in this year. Our king and his family, shared our pains. The crying king is forever burnt in my mind.
Our prime minister also stood forth from youth to man in a few short hours. He set aside his own fear and security and traveled restlessly from north to south to care for the surviving victims and the relatives who had suffered losses beyond healing.
Politicians in general grew. They did not try to score political points on this massacre, but stood together in grief.
Since this was an attack on our democratic system, the court of law also grew.
They have done their utmost to treat the perpetrator fairly and with the respect our law gives to every Norwegian citizen.
The people of Norway grew. With one voice we decided the the terrorist should not succeed in spreading fear and hatred.
The weapons given us were oceans of roses, thousands of candles, and songs. Our finest songs were shared and new were written.
Floods of tears and hugs were shared, also through the long trial this spring. The terrorist argued that Norway had become a communist nation, since children were taught the Norwegian version of Pete Seeger's" My Rainbow Race" in kindergartens. The next day the streets were filled with grandparents, parents and children singing that very song, holding roses in their hands, while marching towards the court house. They stuck their roses in the fence surrounding the court house.
The Church of Norway grew as a focal point where people huddled together in pain. Ministers were challenged to meet with bottomless sorrow and bewilderedness day and night. One minister lost his only son at Utoeya. He still managed to be there for others. In Norway it's the ministers, not the police, who are contacting families who have experienced unexpected deaths.
Yesterday, a year after the attack on our country's democracy and innocent youths, people were gathered in churches all over the country for memorial ceremonies. A huge concert was held in front of Oslo Town Hall. Our finest artists contributed and as a surprising gesture from the man born in the USA, Bruce Springsteen sung "We shall overcome". We shall and we will. The wound hasn't stopped aching, but the hope, the will, the roses, the candles and the music will win in the end. Life over death, love over hate.