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                      Office of the Press Secretary
                            (Ottawa, Canada)
For Immediate Release                                    October 8, 1999




In preparing for the new millennium, Americans have become increasingly aware of the richness of our Nation's history and heritage and of the generations of men and women whose contri-butions have brought us safely to this moment in our American journey.

One of those remarkable individuals was Leif Erikson, who led a small, intrepid band on a voyage of discovery across the North Atlantic from Greenland, arriving on the coast of North America almost a thousand years ago. The courage, resourcefulness, and fortitude of Leif Erikson and the other Viking seafarers foreshadowed the strength and character of the many Nordic pioneers who would make their own voyage to America centuries later. Building new lives through hard work, they also helped build our Nation and sustain our fundamental values of freedom, justice, and democracy.

The millions of Nordic Americans who have contributed so much to our peace and prosperity through the decades have also strengthened the bonds of friendship between the United States and the people of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, and Norway. With a shared past and common ideals, we have worked in partner-ship to promote democracy and opportunity around the world. Through our Northern European Initiative, the Nordic countries and the United States continue to promote our common values in the region and to facilitate Baltic and Russian integration into Western institutions.

The next millennium will hold great challenge and great promise for our Nation and for the people of the Nordic countries. We have only to look back on the achievements of Leif Erikson to rekindle our spirit of adventure and to inspire us as we embark on our own exploration of the uncharted territory of the future.

In honor of Leif Erikson, son of Iceland, grandson of Norway, the Congress, by joint resolution approved on September 2, 1964 (Public Law 88-566), has authorized and requested the President to proclaim October 9 of each year as "Leif Erikson Day."

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 9, 1999, as Leif Erikson Day. I encourage the people of the United States to observe this occasion with appropriate ceremonies and activities commemorating our rich Nordic American heritage.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighth day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-fourth.


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