Today, two coins – the Leif Ericson Commemorative Silver Dollar and the Leifur Eiriksson Commemorative Kronur – tell the tale of Leif Ericson day celebrated on October 9 of each year.
Back on September 2, 1964, a joint resolution between the House and the Senate became Public Law 88-566.
The Joint Resolution stated,
“Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States o f America in Congress assembled, That the President of the United States is authorized to officially proclaim October 9 in each year as Leif Erikson Day.”
Over the years, each president has signed a proclamation days or weeks prior to October 9.
As the first in 1964, President Johnson’s proclamation 3610 read as follows,
“Whereas Leif Erikson, Norseman, son of Erik the Red and great seafarer, in the year 1000 valiantly explored the shores of the American Continent; and
“Whereas the intrepid exploits of the Vikings of Erikson’s time strike a responsive chord in the hearts of all the American people, who as a nation are today embarked upon an adventurous exploration of the unfathomed realms of space; and
“Whereas many of our citizens of Scandinavian descent take inspiration from and annually celebrate Leif Erikson’s momentous voyage; and
“Whereas the Congress of the United States by a joint resolution approved September 2, 1964, has authorized the President of the United States to proclaim October 9 in each year as Leif Erikson Day:
“Now, Therefore, I, Lyndon B. Johnson, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate Friday, October 9, 1964, as Leif Erikson Day and direct Government officials to display the flag on all Government buildings on that day. Further, I invite the people of the United States to honor on that day the memory of Leif Erikson by holding appropriate exercises and ceremonies in schools and churches, or other suitable places.
“In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
“DONE at the City of Washington this second day of September in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and sixty-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and eighty-ninth.”
As another example, in September 1988, Ronald Reagan signed proclamation 5871 which read,
“On his 11th-century voyage to “Helluland, Markland, and Vinland,” Leif Erikson exemplified virtues universally admired throughout world history. This explorer with a missionary spirit challenged the unknown with courage and faith. He triumphed, and his example has inspired many another to do the same. On Left Erikson Day, 1988, we recall and revere the achievements of this man and of the Nordic people who have followed him to North America through the centuries.
“On Leif Erikson Day we also salute all Americans who have left their homes abroad, arrived on our shores after much struggle, and built a new life in this land of freedom and opportunity. Like Leif Erikson, none of them could be sure of success; but, like him, they were willing to take on and conquer adversity. Through the generations they and their descendants have helped America meet many challenges—the cultivation of the land and the construction of cities, the winning of our liberty and independence, and the defense of our country’s cause.
“This year’s 350th anniversary of the first permanent settlement of Swedes and Finns in North America has given us a special opportunity to celebrate the excellent relations between the United States and these two countries. On Leif Erikson Day this year, we celebrate, too, the friendship between the people of the United States and those of all the Nordic countries. Let us also remind ourselves that a treasured part of our heritage as Americans is the longing to seek the horizon and to cross every frontier with daring and determination like those of “Left the Lucky.”
“In honor of Leif Erikson and our Nordic American heritage, the Congress, by a joint resolution approved on September 2, 1964 (78 Stat. 849, 36 U.S.C. 169c), has authorized and requested the President to proclaim October 9 of each year as “Leif Erikson Day.”
“Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 9, 1988, as Leif Erikson Day, and I direct the appropriate Government officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on that day. I also urge the people of the United States to honor Leif Erikson and our Nordic American heritage by holding appropriate exercises and ceremonies in suitable places throughout our land.
“In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of September, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirteenth.”
We remember the courage of the seafaring Viking in the year 1000 with the Leif Ericson Commemorative Silver Dollar and Silver Kronur coins against a background of a Viking longboat.