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Norway’s first May 17th (Constitution Day) monument was erected on the morning of May 17th 1835 by Ole Rynning and his Sunday school pupils. This was in violation of King Charles John’s ban on all activities relating to May 17th or Norwegian independence. It was Sunday, and Ole’s father, parish priest Jens Rynning, was busy giving a sermon at the Snåsa Church. He remained loyal to the king and disapproved of his son’s defiance of the ban. He called it an act of adolescent vandalism.

Ole Rynning was eloquent and well read. He used his skills to educate the public and ran a school for youths at the vicarage farm. He studied in Christiania at the same time as Henrik Wergeland and was clearly inspired by Wergeland’s ideas. Ole was one of the very first who dared celebrate May 17th, and among the first Norwegians to emigrate to America. He settled in Illinois, where he died at only 29.The oldest May 17th monument in Norway has until recently remained largely unknown outside Snåsa. It acts as the starting point of Snåsa’s annual May 17th celebrations.