2014 International Lodge Delegate Report
The recent Sons of Norway International Convention and Business Meeting in Jacksonville, Florida, proved a wonderful and educational experience.
While serving as the executive officer of a US Army recruiting battalion, I had the privilege, twice yearly, to escort a group of local educators, and local- and state-level boards of education members to an active Army base. The goal of these visits was to show these educators what was the US Army like today. They, along with parents, had the biggest influence on our target recruiting population, and the Army wanted them to relate an accurate picture of current military service.
Naturally, veterans of past service could vividly recall many experiences of what was Army life back then. The Army wanted to bring them up to date with in-person exposure to operations and programs on a modern Army base. The Army considered the experience was vitally important, even while spending much money with traditional media advertising.
Our Sons of Norway district and international conventions serve a like purpose for our members. These great events are constructed as much for education (of attendees) as for fun, food, and frolic. As you may know, children cant help but learn something even when they may think they merely are enjoying an activity. The Order wants every member to be up to date with what is going on and what we face for future operation, with plenty of Norwegian goodies and coffee along the way.
One could detect by delegate comments some resistence to change (even with evidence to show the necessity to modify some programs and procedures). Human nature has objection to change, but we also have the gift of intelligence to adopt new ways. The convention included excellent examples and sessions of in what the Order is engaged to maintain our vibrant 119-year history. The basis of concern is the ever-increasing encroachment of state- and federal-level involvement and control in fraternal organizations, readily including Sons of Norway. The Strategic Initiative is the Orders method to arm us for future encounter with these outside, controlling forces. In typical Norwegian fashion, the approach is thoughtful, slow, methodical, conservative and all-inclusive. Keep an eye out for continued notices of events and changes associated with this action.
For the business session, there were some low points. One was the unfortunate action regarding the removal and subsequent appeal thereto of the previous international vice president. The event was heart-wrenching, possibly divisive and very expensive. The Order, by delegate vote, supported the international boards action.
Another low point was the trip and fall of out-going international treasurer Bill Fosmoe. He spent some time at a local hospital, but rejoined us later sporting a splinted and heavily-bandaged sprained finger. The event, though, did not dampen his spirit!!
One high point was election of Ray Knutson as the new international treasurer. Congratulations to Ray!!!
At the Saturday banquet, we entertained another high point for District Five. Mandt Lodge (5-314), Stoughton, Wisconsin, earned the International Tier 1 Lodge-of-Year for 2013!! Lodge president, Darlene Arneson, was beaming from the time she left her table to receive the award, through the rest of the meal and into the evening. You may see a bright aurora in the night sky as you look toward Stoughton!! Congratulations to Darlene Arneson and the rest of Mandt Lodge!!
The Jacksonville weather and I did not agree, not even the slightest!!! I had vowed to stay in the hotel upon arrival and leave only when absolutely necessary!!! Fortunately, any out-of-hotel events were either within a very (very!!) short walk or had transportation provided. Whew!!
The venue, Jacksonville Omni, was tremendous. The facility was great, and the staff extraordinary. I have never encountered a hotel where the entire staff (and I mean EVERYBODY) was genuinely friendly, smiley, helpful and accommodating. They were marvelous.
Southern food, though not necessarily Norwegian, was delightful.
I had the luxury of time (although, I wonder just how high will be the lawn when I get back to the farm!!), so I enjoyed Amtrak from and to St Paul. One does not encounter the unnecessary hassle of TSA, strip search, no shoes and tiny travel containers. The trains have very comfortable seating, one can walk around, the coaches are quiet, no baggage fees (allowed two 50-pound checked and two carry-on), and the food is great.
The 2016 Sons of Norway International Convention is slated for Tacoma, Washington. The weather will prove to be ever so more comfortable than what we encountered in Jacksonville. The site is closer for most of District Five, and many have the chance to enjoy Amtrak to and from Seattle-Tacoma.
Regardless of how you choose to travel, I courage each District Five member to attend the 2016 District Five convention and the 2016 international convention. You will get to learn so much more about Sons of Norway, how it works, how it handles challenges, and how vital you are as a member.
Don Hermanson District Five Delegate