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National holiday in Iceland

Today is June 17, Iceland’s national holiday.

On June 17, 1944, Iceland became a republic anew by an act of parliament, Alþingi, after almost seven centuries of rule under Norwegian and later Danish kings.

The date honors Jón Sigurðsson, the first speaker of the resurrected Alþingi. Born on June 17, 1811, at Hrafnseyri in Arnarfjörður, Jón Sigurðsson was first among equals in the independence movement of the 19th century.

Jón Sigurðsson is probably most famous for his performance at the constitutional convention in Reykjavík in 1851. When the representative of the Danish Crown refused to give up absolute rule of Iceland and threatened to break up the convention, Jón stood up and said “We all protest!” In Icelandic history, these words carry similar historical significance as do the Yankee revolutionary slogans “No taxation without representation!” and “Don’t tread on me!” in the United States.

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