Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Westmann Islands celebrate the 40th anniversary of the end of the volcanic eruption

On July 5, we were honored by an invitation from Vestmannaeyjabær to join in the Goslokahátíð celebration on Heimaey to mark the 40th anniversary of the end of the volcanic eruption that nearly destroyed the city.  This terrible eruption prompted one of the proudest moments in the Icelandic-American friendship as American volunteers joined in the Icelandic efforts to evacuate hospital patients, save buildings, move household goods, and even sheep out of the island.  The Keflavik Base Commander and then-Ambassador to Iceland Frederik Irving also worked tirelessly to provide 19 high power water pumps that many say saved the city and the harbor  by slowing the flow of the lava... 

We were especially proud that the daughter of Ambassador Irving and her family participated in the ceremonies commemorating this event in Iceland.  She read a message from Ambassador Irving who had wanted to be in Iceland for the event.  While he was not able to make the trip, he wanted the people of the Westman Islands and of Iceland to know that he still vividly recalls the events of 1973 and remembers fondly all that was accomplished in 1973 through Icelandic-American cooperation.