The story behind the U.S. Ambassador to Denmark’s viral “smiling” photo

Earlier this morning U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Rufus Gifford posted a photo to Facebook of himself and a woman named Lisbeth, who is a patient at Diakonissestiftelsens Hospice in Copenhagen. It seems that Gifford’s 100-watt smile had previously caught her attention from a magazine story and so a friend of hers, Maria Clausen, reached out to the ambassador, whom she’d never met.


(Courtesy of Rufus Gifford)

Once posted, the portrait of two smiling faces has gone round the world and back.

The ambassador explained to me: “Frankly, I didn’t anticipate the response! Was the least I could do…”

Posted Gifford:

“I got a message earlier this week [from a complete stranger] about a woman named Lisbeth who is in hospice care. She had a picture of me on the wall of her room. She told people that my smile made her happy so she cut the photo out of a magazine article. I heard she liked roses so I brought her some from my garden. Lisbeth: your smile and your laugh are better than mine and your strength and courage are an inspiration. So happy to have met you.”

As Maya Angelou once wrote: “If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love.” Even if you’ve never met them before.

Good deed, Mr. Ambassador.

Every other week, Steven Petrow, the author of “Steven Petrow’s Complete Gay & Lesbian Manners,” addresses questions about LGBT and straight etiquette in his column, Civilities. E-mail questions to him at stevenpetrow@earthlink.net (unfortunately, not all questions can be answered). You can reach him on Facebook at facebook.com/stevenpetrow and on Twitter @stevenpetrow.

 

 

 

 

 

Steven Petrow, the author of “Steven Petrow’s Complete Gay & Lesbian Manners,” addresses questions about LGBT and straight etiquette in his column, Civilities.
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