- (Photo: Norwegian Embassy / Urd Milbury)
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden visited the Norwegian ambassador's residence Tuesday to offer condolences from the American people for the devastating murders in Oslo.
On July 22, 2011 seventy-six people, mostly children, were killed in a bombing and shooting rampage that left destruction and sadness in its wake. Norwegian police have since taken Anders Behring Breivik into custody for the murders. The attacks were the deadliest Norway has seen since World War II.
During his visit, President Obama said to embassy staff, “I came to express my heartfelt condolences.”
He also wrote a message of compassion to Norwegians in the book of condolences that read:
“To the people of Norway - We are all heartbroken by the tragic loss of so many people, particularly youth with the fullness of life ahead of them. No words can ease the sorrow, but please know the thoughts and prayers of all Americans are with the people of Norway and we will stand beside you every step of the way.”
Biden also signed the book of condolences, writing:
"To the people of Norway: It is beyond my capacity to fully comprehend the scope of the tragedy for the families of these innocent beautiful children, and the people of Norway my - our - hearts ache for you. God bless the children."
Obama and Biden also delivered hand-written condolence letters from the First Lady and Mrs. Biden, according to the White House.
The president also spoke to some Norwegian officials, saying, “We’re devastated by it, but we will stand with you.”
Biden told the group, “God bless you all.”
Speaking to the embassy staff, Obama added that he had a "personal great fondness for the people of Norway from my trip to Oslo…[I] hope to visit under better circumstances.”
Americans have also offered solace from miles away.
On Sunday, Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church in Minneapolis, Minn., hosted a service of remembrance for the victims of the Olso attacks. The congregation of mostly Norwegian immigrants and Norwegian-Americans opened its doors to the public for this service.
The Rev. Kristin Sundt, a pastor at the church, said in a written statement: “It is fitting and right that on behalf of Minnesota’s nearly 900,000 citizens of Norwegian descent we honor our homeland and its victims.”