Damage to statue a source of resentment

You do not hear a lot about Scandinavian heritage statues in the U.S. news, so I was dismayed when I heard of the toppling of the “Heg” statue in Madison this past week.

The Heg statue was of Civil War Col. Hans Christian Heg. He was a Wisconsin Scandinavian American anti-slavery activist and leader of an anti-slavery catcher militia who fought for the Union and died in the war. The troops under him were mostly immigrant soldiers and they trained at Camp Randall in Madison. Evidently a general called him “the bravest of the brave” and stories of his courage in the war are marvelous. A group of Norwegian American locals raised $25,000 to have the statue made and placed in Madison in 1925.

This past week, protesters pulled the statue down.

Heg immigrated from Norway in 1840 during the great Scandinavian immigration to the U.S. Both sides of my family came from Norway and Sweden during that migration. The Scandinavian people were enduring great poverty in their homeland and were wanting to take part in the American Dream of a better life for their families. My relatives came young and old; they were mostly farmers, hardworking and courageous.

My great-grandparents would be proud to know their family became doctors, engineers, lawyers, business owners and wonderful parents. Our family now includes beloved nieces and nephews from China, Africa and Iran. We have become a true American Dream after four generations.

My family and many other Scandinavian families in western Wisconsin helped build this state into what it is today and I resent someone else coming and tearing a hard-earned symbol of my heritage down for what appears to be no other reason than to cause chaos and anarchy.

Dean Bergeson