"We Will Sing of You" - the Family Saga


My oldest son told me a story that I had to pass on to you: He was talking to a colleague at work who is a veteran of either the navy or the Marines, he's not sure which. We'll call him Sam. At one time Sam was stationed in Iceland, where they would partner from time to time with the Icelandic coast guard in occasional search and rescue missions.

On one occasion Sam and his cohorts were called up for a rescue mission that, for them, was fairly routine. A small boat off the Icelandic coast was caught in rough weather and was taking on water. A father and his two sons had called for help.

Sam and his team arrived by helicopter above the listing boat. He estimates that a half hour later it would have been too late and the boat would have disappeared into the icy Norwegian Sea. The victims were safely taken on board, and although certainly soaked and freezing, escaped the ordeal unharmed.

Shortly afterwards, a banquet was held for the rescuers, attended not only by the family of  rescuees, the American servicemen and their Icelandic counterparts, but also by the President of Iceland himself.

At one point the wife and mother of the rescued family came up to Sam, gave him a kiss on the cheek, and said,

"We will sing of you."

Sam wasn't quite sure what to make of this. He of course knew it was an expression of gratitude, but it wasn't until his Icelandic coast guard counterpart explained its significance that he realized the import of the moment.

The lady was referring to the family saga. In Nordic cultures, tales of great deeds have for centuries been passed on by oral tradition from generation to generation. Some of those sagas are put to music. Some tell of feats of heroism, others of family histories. Such was the case here, and this particular family was so thankful for the safe return of their family members that they had decided to compose a new verse in honor of their rescuers.

Imagine a song being sung in your honor for generations. All because you were just doing your job. To this day, Sam tears up telling the story.

So would I.