“Order of the Polar Star” recognizes contributions to Swedish-American culture
MINNEAPOLIS — The King of Sweden today bestowed his country’s prestigious “Order of the Polar Star” on two Minnesotans in honor of their contributions to Swedish-American culture and heritage.
David E. Monson of North Oaks and Lynne Blomstrand Moratzka of Scandia, received the awards from His Majesty Carl XVI Gustaf during a gala ceremony hosted by the American Swedish Institute (ASI). Both Monson and Moratzka descended from Swedish immigrant families, and both have been active in preserving and promoting Swedish culture and causes in the state.
Monson was presented with the Order of the Polar Star, Officer First Class, in recognition of decades devoted to strengthening Swedish-American organizations. His contributions of time, talent and resources have included serving as a trustee of the American Swedish Institute as well as on the Swedish Council of America and for the Gammelgården museum in Scandia. Monson also served on the board of Bethel College and Seminary, St. Paul, one of the five remaining U.S. colleges founded by Swedish immigrants. Born in Scandia, Monson’s ancestors immigrated to the Midwest from Sweden in the 1800s.
Moratzka, presented with the Order of the Polar Star, Member First Class, was recognized for her 26 years of service as executive director of Gammelgården museum in Scandia. Under her leadership, the museum has strengthened its programs and collections, and grown in stature over the years. Today it is a model local heritage museum, which preserves and documents the contributions of the first Swedes who immigrated to Minnesota in the 1840s. The only Swedish-American museum in the country, Gammelgården is marking its 40-year anniversary in 2012. Moratzka is a former teacher. She was born in Roseville into a family with Swedish roots.
An audience of more than 800 witnessed the evening award ceremony in downtown Minneapolis, including the King and his wife, Queen Silvia. Other dignitaries who attended include the Swedish Ambassador to the United States, Jonas Hafström; the U.S. Ambassador to Sweden, Mark Brzezinski; Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton; U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar; as well as many community and business leaders.
The medal ceremony was part of a banquet to celebrate the Swedish royal visit to Minnesota, which included an afternoon building dedication of ASI’s new Nelson Cultural Center, completed in June 2012.
Well-known past recipients of the Order of the Polar Star award include Greta Garbo and Susan Sontag. Past Minnesotans to receive the award include Rev. Dr. Herbert Chilstrom, Dr. Nils Hasselmo, Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Dr. Edward Lindell, Patricia Lindell, Bruce Karstadt, Dr. Byron Nordstrom, Marlene Johnson and Paul Dahlin.
Photos available upon request.
About The Royal Order of the Polar Star Award
The Royal Order of the Polar Star (in Swedish, Nordstjärneorden) is a Swedish order of chivalry created by King Frederick I of Sweden in 1748, together with the Order of the Sword and the Order of the Seraphim. The motto of the order, “Nescit occasum” (It knows no decline), conveys that Sweden is as constant as a never-setting star. Since 1975, presentation of the order has been limited to foreign nationals and members of the royal family. It is awarded to individuals in recognition of their personal service to Sweden or for the promotion of Swedish interests.
About The American Swedish Institute
Founded in 1929 by Swedish immigrant newspaper publisher Swan J. Turnblad, the American Swedish Institute is a historic house, museum and cultural center that serves as a gathering place for people to share stories and experiences around universal themes of tradition, migration, craft and the arts, all informed by enduring ties to Sweden. The American Swedish Institute offers a variety of programs designed to celebrate Swedish, Swedish-American and Nordic cultures, and is housed in the 1908 Turnblad Mansion, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.