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Plans unveiled for July 22 memorials

The Norwegian government will mark the one-year anniversary of last summer’s terrorist attacks on Norway with memorial ceremonies, concerts and, since July 22 falls on a Sunday this year, special church services all over the country. Survivors and victims’ families will also be able to visit the island of Utøya, where 69 persons were killed in the terrorist’s massacre.

Mourners still leave fresh flowers at a makeshift memorial across from Utøya. On July 22, the government will host memorials on the island, in Oslo and around the country. PHOTO: Views and News

“We’ll be honouring those killed in Oslo and on Utøya, but we will also honour the survivors, the volunteers and the rescue workers,” the government minister in charge of culture, Anniken Huitfeldt, said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Events will start at 8am on July 22, when the families of victims will be ferried over to Utøya. Memorials will continue at 9:30am with a wreath-laying near the government complex in downtown Oslo that was badly damaged in the July 22 bombing that preceded the massacre on Utøya.

“There are a lot of people who were affected by what happened,” Huitfeldt said. “We want everyone who wants to participate to have that possibility. Everyone can come and lay down roses, in stillness and reflection.”

Memorials will also be held near the bombed government complext in downtown Oslo, where many of the damaged buildings remain covered in tarps and surrounded by a new security fence. PHOTO: Views and News

Official church services will be held at both the Oslo Cathedral and at Hole Church, not far from Utøya, while state churches all over Norway will also conduct memorials during their Sunday services.

“Representatives from the government will take part in the church services and other arrangements around the country as well,” Huitfeldt said. “Some ministers will be in Oslo, others in their home communities.” More details would be released when the date nears.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) will produce and air a memorial concert on Sunday evening from Rådhusplassen in Oslo, the city hall plaza where more than 200,000 people gathered spontaneously three days after the attacks last year, carrying roses and grieving together. The concert will feature such Norwegian performers as Marit Larsen, de Lillos, Karpe Diem and Mari Boine. Several artists have written new works about July 22.  Authors Karl Ove Knausgård, famed for his lengthy series of books on his own life, Min kamp, and Frode Grytten, for example, will read new texts.

Speculation continues to fly that American rock legend Bruce Springsteen, who’ll be holding a concert in Oslo on Saturday July 21 before traveling on to Bergen on July 23, will take part in a concert, either in Oslo or on the island of Utøya on the July 22. That’s where members of the Labour Party youth organization targeted by the terrorist, AUF, will be gathering for memorials of their own.

“We’ve registered all the speculation but don’t have anything new to add,” said Haddy N’jie, who will serve as program leader for the NRK production. “We have of course sent an inquiry to his management.” Springsteen himself told Norwegian journalists when his European summer concert tour began that he was keen to play at a concert on July 22, to honor those killed and terrorized in the attacks.

The organizers said they had no idea how many people will attend the July 22 memorial concert, but they expect a large turnout. An estimated 40,000 alone turned out in pouring rain to sing a song that had been ridiculed by terrorist Anders Behring Breivik during his trial earlier this year. NRK also said several cities around Norway have already expressed interest in carrying live video links from the concert on large screens, so people can watch together from remote locations at a time when many have left the capital for summer holidays.

“A lot of folks will come,” said NRK communications director Tommy Hansen. “The memorials will affect the entire nation that day.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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