Source – Extracts: Mary was a newlywed and ready to move to Norway, but was stopped at the airport because she didn’t have enough money for the trip. Then a stranger turned up and paid for her.
Mary Menth Andersen was 31 years old at the time and had just married Norwegian Dag Andersen. She was looking forward to starting a new life in Åsgårdstrand in Vestfold with him. But first she had to get all of her belongings across to Norway.
The date was November 2nd, 1988.
At the airport in Miami things were hectic as usual, with long lines at the check-in counters. When it was finally Mary’s turn and she had placed her luggage on the baggage line, she got the message that would crush her bubbling feeling of happiness.
“You’ll have to pay a $103 surcharge if you want to bring both those suitcases to Norway,” the man behind the counter said.
Mary had no money. Her new husband had travelled ahead of her to Norway, and she had no one else to call.
“I was completely desperate and tried to think which of my things I could manage without. But I had already made such a careful selection of my most prized possessions,” says Mary.
Although she explained the situation to the man behind the counter, he showed no signs of mercy.
“I started to cry, tears were pouring down my face and I had no idea what to do. Then I heard a gentle and friendly voice behind me saying, “That’s OK, I’ll pay for her”.”
Mary turned around to see a tall man whom she had never seen before.
….She was thrilled to be able to bring both her suitcases to Norway and assured the stranger that he would get his money back. The man wrote his name and address on a piece of paper that he gave to Mary. She thanked him repeatedly. When she finally walked off towards the security checkpoint, he waved goodbye to her.
The piece of paper said ‘Barack Obama’ and his address in Kansas, which is the state where his mother comes from. Mary carried the slip of paper around in her wallet for years, before it was thrown out.
“He was my knight in shining armor,” says Mary, smiling.
She paid the $103 back to Obama the day after she arrived in Norway. At that time he had just finished his job as a poorly paid community worker in Chicago, and had started his law studies at prestigious Harvard university.
In the spring of 2006 Mary’s parents had heard that Obama was considering a run for president, but that he had still not decided. They chose to write a letter in which they told him that he would receive their votes. At the same time, they thanked Obama for helping their daughter 18 years earlier.
In a letter to Mary’s parents dated May 4th, 2006 and stamped ‘United States Senate, Washington DC’, Barack Obama writes:
“I want to thank you for the lovely things you wrote about me and for reminding me of what happened at Miami airport. I’m happy I could help back then, and I’m delighted to hear that your daughter is happy in Norway. Please send her my best wishes. Sincerely, Barack Obama, United States senator.”
The parents sent the letter on to Mary.
“It’s amazing to think that the man who helped me 20 years ago may now become the next US president,” says Mary delightedly.
First Lady Michelle Obama watches performers dance on the City Wall in Xian, in China’s central Shaanxi province, March 24
AFP: Obama Vows Western Unity Ahead Of Ukraine Crisis Summit
President Barack Obama on Monday vowed Western unity in punishing Moscow for annexing Crimea, ahead of crisis talks that could see Russia excluded from the G8 club of rich nations. In Ukraine itself, the country’s acting president announced that its troops had been given orders to withdraw from Crimea after the fall of another military base to Kremlin troops. “Europe and America are united in our support of the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian people, we’re united in imposing a cost on Russia for its actions so far,” Obama told journalists at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. Obama then headed to The Hague where he has called an emergency Group of Seven summit to discuss what steps to take in the worst East-West standoff since the Cold War.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) for what may be their most tense talks to date. It will be their first meeting since Washington imposed financial restrictions on the most powerful members of Putin’s inner circle for their decision to resort to force in response to the fall of Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin regime after three months of sometimes deadly protests. Kerry has already warned that Moscow risks losing its coveted place among the G8 because of the Crimea crisis. British Prime Minister David Cameron said leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States — minus current G8 chair Russia — must discuss the permanent expulsion of Russia from the group, which it was admitted to in 1998 as a reward for choosing a democratic post-Soviet course.
President Barack Obama, right, is greeted by Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans, left, upon arrival at Schiphol Amsterdam Airport, Netherlands
President Barack Obama and Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans greet dignitaries upon arrival at Schiphol Amsterdam Airport, Netherlands
President Barack Obama is silhouetted as he walks towards the Marine One helicopter upon arriving at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
President Barack Obama and China’s President Xi Jinping take their seats before a meeting, held on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit, in The Hague. President Obama, who has imposed tougher sanctions on Moscow than European leaders over its seizure of the Black Sea peninsula, will seek support for his firm line at a meeting with other leaders of the G7
President Barack Obama and Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte, shakes hands. President Obama is attending the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, which will form the backdrop for an emergency meeting of Group of Seven leaders on Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
National Security Advisor Susan Rice and members of President Barack Obama’s delegation stand beneath a painting by Bartholomeus van der Helst, as President Obama speaks at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam
President Barack Obama and Mayor of Amsterdam Eberhard van der Laan, look at a guest book during a visit to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Rijksmuseum director Wim Pijbes tells President Barack Obama and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, where to stand in front of Dutch master Rembrandt’s The Night Watch painting during a visit to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands
President Barack Obama and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, look at the Act of Abjuration during a visit at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands
President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are greeted by Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Mkoana-Mashabne after arriving at Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria, South Africa
South African times first (six hours ahead of Washington DC)
9:45 AM (3:45 AM ET): The President and First Lady participate in an official arrival ceremony, Union Building, Pretoria
10:0 AM (4:0 AM ET) The President holds bilateral meetings with President Zuma
11:05 AM (5:05 AM ET): Holds a joint press conference with President Zuma
3:35 PM (9:35 AM ET): Takes part in a Young African Leaders Initiative Town Hall, University of Johannesburg – Soweto
5:55 PM (11:55 AM ET): Meets with African Union Chairwoman Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
8:05 (2:05 PM ET): The President and First Lady attend an official state dinner with President Zuma, Union Building, Pretoria
On Saturday afternoon in Johannesburg, the First Lady will host a conversation with youth, organized in conjunction with MTV Base, an African youth and music TV channel, and Google+. The First Lady will be joined by teenagers from across South Africa, as well as students joining virtually in cities around the U.S. via Google+ Hangouts, including in L.A., Kansas City, New York City, and Houston
South African times first (six hours ahead of Washington DC)
9:45 AM (3:45 AM ET): The President and First Family depart Johannesburg
11:45 AM (5:45 AM ET): Arrive Cape Town
2:20 PM (8:20 AM ET): The First Family tour Robben Island
4:20 PM (10:20 AM ET): The President tours the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation Youth Centre with Archbishop Desmond Tutu
6:15 PM (12:15 PM ET): The President delivers remarks at the University of Cape Town
The Week Ahead:
Monday: The President and the First Family will travel to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, where they will be hosted by President Jakaya Kikwete and First Lady Salma Kikwete. The President will participate in a CEO roundtable and will attend a formal state dinner in the evening. The President and the First Family will remain overnight in Tanzania.
Tuesday: The President will attend a meet and greet with U.S. Embassy personnel. He will then participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the 1998 Embassy Bombing Memorial. Later that morning, he will witness a “Soccket” Ball demonstration at the Ubungo Plaza – Symbion Power Plant. Following the demonstration, he will tour the plant and deliver remarks. In the afternoon, the First Family will depart Tanzania en route Washington, DC.
Wednesday: The President has no public events scheduled.
Thursday: The President and the First Lady will celebrate the Fourth of July by hosting military heroes and their families for an Independence Day celebration with a barbeque, concert and a view of fireworks on the South Lawn.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday: The President and First Family will be at Camp David. On Sunday, they will return to Washington, DC.