We had the honor of speaking with Ralph Howard, Chairman of Vasa in Atlanta.
What is your connection to Sweden?
My connection to Sweden is my wife. We have been married for 37 years. We met on a blind date in West Germany in November 1983. After Ralph completed his military service and graduate school in Alabama, the couple moved to Atlanta and have lived here since.
Tell us a little bit about your organization, what does Vasa do?
The Vasa lodge in Atlanta is one out of 18 districts of the Vasa Order. Vasa is about sharing, enjoying and propagating Scandinavian culture and heritage. As a group of 30-55 members in Atlanta we celebrate all the classic Swedish holidays, have members' meetings and we try to celebrate other nationalities beside Sweden, with representatives from other countries, where they get to show us their culture.
Vasa’s name reflects the organization’s roots as a Swedish-American fraternal organization and started more than a century ago.Vasa Order of America emerged from the many Swedish societies that existed as a safety net for early immigrants. The Vasa Order comprises the Grand Lodge, 18 District Lodges, and nearly 200 local lodges.
Who are your members? If you are not a member, how do you become a member?
Our members were born in Nordic countries, are of Nordic ancestry or the spouse of an active Vasa member, are a non-Nordic widow or widower of a Vasa member, or are committed to the promotion and advancement of Swedish and Nordic heritage and culture.
Do you have anything planned for the coming months?
Usually, we celebrate the classic Swedish holidays and other Nordic holidays. Unfortunately, we do not have anything planned right now because of the Covid situation. We are hoping to plan something soon for our members.
For more information about Vasa in Atlanta, please visit the website.