Friday, July 29, 2011

A classic story of strong U.S. and Icelandic ties

Last evening reminded me of how deep the connections between Iceland and the U.S. can be.   I welcomed Ragnheidur Lilja Lennon Þorðardóttir and her family to our residence.  Ragnheidur Lilja, who goes by Lee in the U.S., is celebrating her 90th birthday with her extended family of Icelanders and Americans.  Her very rich life not only bore witness to an important period in Icelandic American relations but it shows how our two countries have grown closer together.  As a young Icelander, she met and married a dashing Air Force pilot in the early 1940s.  Their first child was born in Iceland and she then followed her husband to Germany, Japan, and many other places in the world until she settled back in Iceland as a widow and eventually moved to the United States.   Her children are as much Icelanders as they are Americans; they visit Iceland frequently to spend time with relatives.  One of them joined the U.S. Foreign Service.  As we shared a few moments together, it occurred to me that the question of nationalities never came up.  The fact that this family had both American and Icelandic citizens in their midst is seen as a perfectly normal state of affairs.   It is reassuring to know that stories like this are very common.