County governor Eriksson,
Ladies and gentlemen,
The emigration from Sweden to North America was among the largest in Europe. The number who traveled to America amounts to approximately 1.3 million. Some returned home, but more than one million left Sweden permanently. The Swedish emigrants built their own communities and schools in certain areas of the States. They even printed their own newspapers and books in Swedish. Today this material is an important source for the knowledge of Swedish emigration.
Facts and figures about the major emigration period are historically interesting. More fascinating, however, are the various destinies of those who emigrated. Here we can find the stories of happiness and success, and naturally, also of longing, grief and tragedy.
It is of great importance for us as a small country to keep in touch with our descendants in America. These contacts therefore constitute a valuable base from which we can create a variety of exchange programs; for example in the areas of youth, tourism, sports, culture, and business.
Modern technology has made it easier to search for knowledge about our emigration. It is in this context that institutions such as The Swedish American Center have played and will continue to play an important role.
I congratulate The Swedish American Center having been able to borrow the Värmland gift from Minneapolis for this special occasion. Wishing the center a successful future, I hereby declare it open.