65° - 01.09.1967, Blaðsíða 9

65° - 01.09.1967, Blaðsíða 9
Officially Speaking Thoughts of a New Ambassador KARL F. ROLYAAG U.S. Ambassador to Iceland It was hot, heavy, sticky May 3 evening at John F. Kennedy airport in New York. As my wife, Florence, and I unloaded in the Pan American lounge, the air-conditioning was a refresher. (Just two days earlier I had been stranded by a violent late spring blizard of traffic-stopping proportions away out in Bismarck, North Dakota!) — We had a four hour lay-over in New York — and with the heat and smog pressing in we made no effort to leave the relative comfort of the airport lounge. We whiled away the time in letter writing, reading the daily New York Times, the news magazines scattered about and making last minute telephone calls to friends — and sitting in quiet discussion between ourselves. Idly speculating on what was our new life to be like? What was the caliber of the staff at the Embassy? How long would we call Iceland our home? What might be our successes — or, for that matter our failures? Who, what, when, where and why? These and many, many more questions. We don’t know all the answers yet — but many we do. Perhaps, first, I should go back a bit into my own background. I was born and educated in Minnesota. My father was an immigrant fisherman from Norway who had sailed many times to the Lofoten Islands and had become a Professor in Norwegian lan- guage and literature. One can scarcely be a scholar in those fields and not have some knowledge of, or interest in, the great literary tradition of Ice- land. I learned at an early age the familiar names of the old sagas and eddas — especially Snorri Sturluson. After graduation from St. Olaf College, almost six years in the army during World War II, graduate studies at the University of Minnesota and a year at the University of Oslo on a fellow- ship from the American-Scandinavian Founda- tion, I became active in Minnesota politics (some- times on the winning side; sometimes on the losing side!) After four years as chairman of my party, eight years as Lieutenant Governor and four years as Governor I awakened one Wednesday morning last November to discover (as so many of my predecessors had) that I had gone to the well once too often! Those years were difficult and hard -— but also rewarding and stimulating in many ways -— not least for the education they provided. A fine post graduate course in human relations, public rela- tions, political science and history. I do not lay any claim to be a trained diplomat in the formal and usual sense of the term, but in a few short months in this assignment I have dis- covered that my training and active political back- ground have been invaluable as a means of pre- paration. There is an old American saying, used by Governors, to the effect that there is no training available for a Governor, except that of having been a Governor. This, incidentally, is used most often when the Lieutenant Governor seeks to un- seat the incumbent Governor. I know! Perhaps, the same can be said for, about, and: by Ambassadors — I refer, of course, to the train- ing — not the unseating. I’m still much too new in my present position to pass judgement on that score. Seriously, however, a maturing background in American politics can be of immense help in pre- paring an American Ambassador for his assign- ment. Particularly, is this so when one comes 65 7



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