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Category: USA

9/11 changed my life forever …

My story isn’t so different from many other immigrants to the USA. I’m the naive farm boy from Denmark who, with an apprenticeship in furniture marketing from ‘Magasin’ in Copenhagen,…

My story isn’t so different from many other immigrants to the USA.

I’m the naive farm boy from Denmark who, with an apprenticeship in furniture marketing from ‘Magasin’ in Copenhagen, arrived in 1975 in Denver,Colorado, on a temporary workvisa with $500 in my pocket and two suitcases.

Having loved history, and the stories of the old west since as a young boy i read the adventures of Davy Crocket, i wanted to stay in the US, and ended up working for Danish stores in Calgary and Vancouver, Canada, a couple of years while waiting for my Green Card.

The timing was perfect.

My former Denver boss, Christian Christensen, was starting his own store and invited me to become a partner. Within two years, I moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and opened my own furniture storestore.
Over the next few years I was able to buy Christian out and move to a larger location. From the start we carried mostly Danish teak, but over the years we evolved into a full-service contemporary store and were an early entrant in online sales.

Albuquerque has been good to us. Although we had our ups and downs, by 2000 we had seventy employees and multimillion dollar sales.

Then came 9/11.

Most of us remember where we were that day, and what we did. I. and the entire staff, were glued to the showroom TVs. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing. My wife, Sylvia, called from work. She was employed as a civilian property specialist with the Air National Guard. The base was on lockdown, and there were rumors that the air force would shoot civilian air craft out of the sky.
We had plenty of time to follow the news. There were no customers, and the streets were almost empty.

Over the next to weeks, we scrambled to save the business. Merchandise arrived daily, and there was no way we could pay for it. We laid off more than half of the staff. And we cut costs wherever we could. In the end we survived, but sales never fully recovered.

Another economic crisis in 1998 was hard, and when we were hit again in 2011, I was burned out. It wasn’t fun anymore.
Soren Thomsen, my minority partner and GM, offered to buy me out. We came to an agreement, and I have been happily retired from retail ever since.

Even back in school in Denmark, I enjoyed storytelling and language, and now I have the time to engage my creative side. I’m writing a series with a Danish protagonist, John Agger, and I put him in impossible situations in Bosnia, New Mexico and the cartel world in Mexico. ‘Sword of the Prophet’ was published in 2016, and I have two more with an agent at the moment. The forth is in the works.
If a writing career is in the future, we will see, but I enjoy the ride.

In 2019, Sylvia and I will celebrate our 25th anniversary. She’s a native New Mexican, and we met over a hog-dead-at a matanza, or luau, at my house, and we never looked back.

Over the years we have built my little, traditional adobe house into a cozy hacienda, we travel the world, and we enjoy each others company.

A couple of years ago, Sylvia’s son, Jason, died suddenly from a stroke, leaving two small children.

Sari, now 10, and Luke, just turned 3, are the love of our lives, and we see they often. For me, who never had children of my own, to become grandfather is amazing, and I figure I got the best of both worlds. I didn’t have to go through the whole ‘raising kids’ thing, but ended up with the best grandkids in the world. Pretty neat.

I just turned 65 and am the proud owner of a Medicare card.

Books need to be written.

The world is waiting to be explored.

Life is good.

*

Benny, 65   

 

 

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My friend was forced to crash into the Pentagon on 9/11

I will never forget September 11th 2001. I was about to go flying that day as a captain for American Airlines but all flying in US airspace came to a…

I will never forget September 11th 2001.

I was about to go flying that day as a captain for American Airlines but all flying in US airspace came to a grinding stop after the terror attacks happened in New York, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania. One of my colleagues, Charles Burlingame, was the captain on flight AA 77 which got hijacked by 5 Islamic terrorists and crashed into the Pentagon near Washington D.C.

My wife Valeria and I were friends with “Chip” who until recently had been living in Fort Lauderdale, like us, but Chip moved to Washington D.C. to be closer to where he worked when he was not flying. Chip had started working at the Pentagon and it was utterly absurd that it was Chip who was in command of AA 77 which crashed into the Pentagon.
As a side note, several pictures of Chip and his family as well as his wallet he was carrying that infamous day he died, are now at display at the magnificent 9/11 Memorial & Museum in downtown New York.

Our daughter, Sophia, who is now 16 years old, had been born just 3 weeks prior to 9/11, is seen here with her mom Valeria in my cockpit on a B777-200 in Miami before flying them to Dallas, Texas.

On the morning of 9/11 I was in our bedroom watching my wife Valeria breast feeding Sophia when all hell broke loose while watching TV and we watched the 2 airplanes fly into the World Trade Center twin buildings where 50.000 people worked.
It was an absolutely horrible day which I will never forget. I almost immediately started receiving E-mails, texts and phone calls from family and friends from Europe, South America and the USA. Everybody were deeply concerned and wanted to know if I was one of the captains that crashed and if Valeria and Sophia were alright. Hearing from family and all the friends was very moving and touched my heart.

About 7 months after the 9/11 attack, I had a very frightening experience when I was on my last day of a 3 day trip. I met a police officer on the jet bridge on the way to my airplane, who informed me that there was a bomb threat on the airplane I was about to fly from Miami, Florida to Cancun, Mexico. The message was very clear: my airplane would explode over Miami after takeoff !!!!
After an about 3 hour delay where every single passenger got interviewed by FBI, American Airlines security and the police and the bomb sniffing dogs had checked the inside of the plane as well as every single bag, I ended up ordering two passengers off the airplane and we finally departed for Cancun.

It was longest 75 minutes of flying time for all the passengers before we landed safely in Cancun, Mexico.

Over the years, first an First Officer and since the summer of 1996, a Captain, I have flown and been introduced to presidents, royalty, sport stars, movie stars, bands, singers etc. etc. but the one person that made me almost speechless and somewhat intimated, was an elderly gentleman, who in November of 2009 on a flight from Orlando, Florida to Miami, came up from First Class, while still on the ground, with his hand out ready to shake mine. He smiled and I knew that I recognized his face but at the time could not place it and he said:”I just wanted to come up and introduce myself. My name is Buzz Aldrin”.

I stood across the man who in 1969 was the second human being after Armstrong to set foot on the moon while on the Apollo 11 mission and spent 19 hours on the surface of the moon !!!!

Incredible experience to meet him….

I have loved my life as an airline pilot and am now in my 32nd year flying for American Airlines and unfortunately only have another 19 months left before I reach my mandatory retirement age of 65. I am not looking forward to that last flight as an airline captain but will be requesting my last flight to be from Miami to Buenos Aires, Argentina on the B777-300. I will be having my wife Valeria ( who is from Argentina), my daughter Sophia and quite possible my sister Marianne from Denmark onboard and take the family and the crew out in Buenos Aires for a last celebration of this wonderful job before that last flight back to Miami in late August of 2019.

*

Torben, 63    

 

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Life is really like a box of chocolate …

It has been a very difficult year. In February we lost my mother in-law suddenly, where after my oldest daughter Amy finally succeeded getting pregnant, after trying for over one…

It has been a very difficult year.

In February we lost my mother in-law suddenly, where after my oldest daughter Amy finally succeeded getting pregnant, after trying for over one year and again two weeks thereafter, my ex-husband was diagnosed with Stage four Terminal kidney cancer.

He died September 29th, the day after my birthday.

Three weeks later my first grandchild, Wyatt, was born.

I am now trying to help my daughters to the best that I possibly can. Amy is now 28 and she has taken one year leave from her teaching job in New Jersey to finish her Masters in Writing, and her little sister Christina, now 25, moved to California where she is fighting with her severe depression, while she is attending College. She wants to be able to help drug addicts and alcoholics.

I am tremendously proud of being their mother, even with the very difficult times they have both had to endure throughout their lives. When I divorced my ex-husband, who was an abusive alcoholic, he told me that he would make sure to make the rest of my life a living hell – and he sure did anything in his power to keep his promise.

And unfortunately both my daughters are the once that had to pay the price.

I also had to close my company, Scandinavian Home Decorators, because nobody could afford to hire business with their home improvements due to the financial crises that hit the USA in 2008.

Since 2009 I worked as a driver there after in a call center, where my hourly pay was only $13.00. I am currently working with my years of home improvement experience, as a maintenance technician and making $25.00 an hour, which now at least helps me pay all my bills on time, but not enough to save for retirement/vacation or a rainy day for a large bill.

So I am basically earning the same income as I had in Denmark as an intern.

Life is really like a box of chocolate …

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Mai-Britt, 53   

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