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President Biden proclaims Oct. 9 Leif Erikson Day

Leif Erikson was the first European to reach the Americas, beating Christopher Columbus by centuries.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — President Joe Biden issued a formal proclamation Friday making October 9 Leif Erikson Day. 

Erikson and his crew of fellow Scandinavians are believed to be the first Europeans to reach the Americas, beating Christopher Columbus by centuries.

800 years after their expedition, six Norwegian families arrived in New York City to start their lives in America on October 9, 1825. 

11 million Americans can trace their heritage back to Scandinavia. Danes, Finns, Icelanders, Swedes, and Norwegians are everywhere, while a large population of Nordic-Americans can be found in the northern Great Plains.

"Nordic Americans are leaders in our communities -- public officials serving their constituents, law enforcement officers and service members defending our Nation, doctors and nurses, educators, artists, essential workers leading us through the pandemic, visionaries creating new businesses, and so many other important roles," Biden said in the proclamation Friday. 

One of those roles he left unmentioned: our astronauts.

Maine astronaut Jessica Meir's mother is from the country of Sweden, and her family settled in the county not far from the towns of New Sweden and Stockholm where people still speak Swedish in their homes.

This week, Meir went back to her roots in Caribou. She responded to a challenge from recent national spelling bee winner and NASA enthusiast Zaila Avant-Garde and credited her time on the Caribou basketball team with her skills.

There's also a radio personality in Maine who's actually named Leif Erickson. He tweeted NEWS CENTER Maine's producer Krister Rollins to share what he does on the holiday:

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