The vigil, organized by members of the local Sons of Norway lodge, included music, some comments by members, a poem and prayer reading, a moment of silence and a flower-laying ceremony. The event was held to show solidarity with the people of Norway after two attacks – the car-bombing of a government building in Oslo and a shooting massacre at a youth camp just outside of the capital – that killed 77 people.
"It really hit home for a number of us, because it was a tragic happening to begin with, but most of us in the Sons of Norway have family and friends who live in Oslo, or have been there or are from there," said Janina Carlstad, publicity director for the Sons of Norway. "We just wanted to signal to the world and to our family and friends there that we were offering our respect and our condolences."
She said Oslo holds a special place in her heart as she has family members there and around the country, as does her husband, and she lived and worked there for a few months.
Anders Breivik, a 32-year-old Norwegian man, reportedly admitted to carrying out both attacks, and he is currently on trial as prosecutors try to figure out, among other things, whether he acted alone. Breivik was reportedly motivated by extreme anti-immigration and anti-government views.
Ernie Hamre, a member of the Sons of Norway whose father was Norwegian, said he was shocked to find out the attacks were carried out by a homegrown terrorist, which comes as a stark contrast to the image of a country where the Nobel Peace Prize originated.
"It's a sad day for Norway, and it's a sad day for the rest of the world in many ways because it just goes to show us even a peace-loving country can have something like this happen," he said.
"The sad thing about it I think is the country will never really be the same, because they're going to have to beef up their security, they're going to have to watch for terrorists just like all the other countries in the world are doing at this stage," he added. "Our world has changed."
Hamre said he is concerned that type of extremism, whatever its origins are, is on the rise not just in Europe but in the rest of the world.
"It's growing in the entire world. We could have an attack in Canada. We need to be vigilant about our own country, because these radicals are cropping up all over the place."