Mary and Dag Andersen with letter
The Norwegian newspaper VG has reported a truly amazing story about a newly-wed trying to get to
Norway to be with her husband, and the stranger who helped pay an unexpected luggage surcharge. The Oct
05, 2008 blog 'Leisha's Random Thoughts' has translated the story.
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.
Mary Andersen was at the Miami airport checking in for a long flight to Norway to be with her husband when the
airline representative informed her that she wouldn't be able to check her luggage without paying a 100 dollars
surcharge: when it was finally Mary's turn, she got the message that would crush her bubbling feeling of
"You'll have to pay a 103 dollar 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 traveled 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.
As tears streamed down her face, she heard a 'gentle and friendly voice' behind her saying, "That's okay, I'll pay
Mary turned around to see a tall man whom she had never seen before.
"He had a gentle and kind voice that was still firm and decisive. The first thing I thought was, who is this man?"
Although this happened 20 years ago, Mary still remembers the authority that radiated from the man.
"He was nicely dressed, fashionably dressed with brown leather shoes, a cotton shirt open at the throat and
khaki pants," says Mary.
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.
Who was the man?
Twenty years later, she is thrilled that the friendly stranger at the airport may be the next President and has
voted for him already and donated 100 dollars to his campaig!
"He was my knight in shining armor," says Mary, smiling.
She paid the 103 dollars 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 the prestigious
Mary even convinced her parents to vote for him!
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.
And Obama replied:
Mary says that when her friends and associates talk about the election, especially when race relations is the
heated subject, she relates the story of the kind man who helped out a stranger-in-need over twenty years ago,
years before he had even thought about running for high office.
In a letter to Mary's parents dated May 4th, 2006 and stamped ' United States Senate,
Washington D.C.', Barack Obama writes:
The parents sent the letter on to Mary.
'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'.
Truly a wonderful story and something that needs to be passed along in the maelstrom of fear-and-smear
politics we are being subjected to right now.
Remember this was 1988, when 100 dollars was quite a bit of money, in comparison to its value today.