In the opening of his book The Greatest Generation, Tom Brokaw mentions a Scandinavian family; hard-working immigrant parents, who had four sons overseas during World War II, one of whom was killed. Montana’s Capital City had several families with similar situations, including the Paulsen brothers.
Paul Paulsen Sr., came to America from Denmark in 1911. He met his wife, Elfreda, who had emigrated from Norway in 1914, at Helena’s Norwegian Methodist Church. They were married in 1916 and granted citizenship in 1926. The Paulsen’s six children were raised in the Helena Valley, where Paul served as the superintendent of Forestvale Cemetery for over 40 years.
Mr. Paulsen’s offspring took their patriotic cue from their father. When he attempted to enlist in WWI in 1917, the recruiter told him that he was exempt from military service because he was not a U.S. citizen. To which the Dane replied, “If it’s good enough to live here, it’s good enough to fight for!” and thereafter ingrained the same belief in his sons.
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Four Paulsen brothers, from left, Harold,