Friday, September 12, 2008

A Positive Facet of 9/11


OR - The Day the World Came to Town





This is a book that would warm the coldest heart. In the aftermath of the day of devastation that was 9/11, the tiny town of Gander in Newfoundland took to its heart 38 airliners and their passengers that were refused entry by the U.S. The stories recounted here restores faith in the very goodness of people, particularly in the innate kindness of Newfoundlanders who took these lost and frightened men, women and children into their homes and bosoms.



"For the better part of a week, nearly every man, woman, and child in Gander and the surrounding smaller towns stopped what they were doing so they could help. They placed their lives on hold for a group of strangers and asked for nothing in return. They affirmed the basic goodness of man at a time when it was easy to doubt such humanity still existed."

When thirty-eight jetliners bound for the United States were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland, on September 11, 2001, due to the closing of United States airspace, the citizens of this small community were called upon to come to the aid of more than six thousand displaced travelers.

Roxanne and Clarke Loper were excited to be on their way home from a lengthy and exhausting trip to Kazakhstan, where they had adopted a daughter, when their plane suddenly changed course and they found themselves in Newfoundland. Hannah and Dennis O'Rourke, who had been on vacation in Ireland, were forced to receive updates by telephone on the search for their son Kevin, who was among the firefighters missing at the World Trade Center. George Vitale, a New York state trooper and head of the governor's security detail in New York City who was returning from a trip to Dublin, struggled to locate his sister Patty, who worked in the Twin Towers. A family of Russian immigrants, on their way to the Seattle area to begin a new life, dealt with the uncertainty of conditions in their future home.

The people of Gander were asked to aid and care for these distraught travelers, as well as for thousands more, and their response was truly extraordinary. Oz Fudge, the town constable, searched all over Gander for a flight-crew member so that he could give her a hug as a favor to her sister, a fellow law enforcement officer who managed to reach him by phone. Eithne Smith, an elementary-school teacher, helped the passengers staying at her school put together letters to family members all over the world, which she then faxed.

Bonnie Harris, Vi Tucker, and Linda Humby, members of a local animal protection agency, crawled into the jets' cargo holds to feed and care for all of the animals on the flights. Hundreds of people put their names on a list to take passengers into their homes and give them a chance to get cleaned up and relax.


This book reads like a novel. I couldn’t put it down. A validation of all that is best in the human spirit. A perfect antidote to the horror of 9/11 and the horrors that have been committed in its name ever since.

Highly recommended.

13 comments:

  1. Wow, that's something I never even knew about.

    I guess you just don't think about how an event like that affects air traffic.

    Good for Newfoundland - I'm sure that some visitors (without missing relatives) ended up enjoying their Newfoundland experience despite the circumstances.

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  2. I hope that I can be as welcoming and as kindhearted as that if I am ever called upon to do such a deed. I hope I can be, I wish it for myself and my fellow man. Sometimes I'm afraid that I'm too self centered and not caring enough. I guess there is always a test.

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  3. I remember reading about this at the time, all the planes that had to land in strange places and how the locals rallied round. It's very heartwarming to know people can still respond so generously in an often harsh and uncaring world.

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  4. Not something the US media concentrates on, but heart-warming nevertheless. Frankly, the self-centered, self-pitying, attitude of much of America sickens me. Brits have become used to getting on with their lives after terrorism, from the IRA to (so-called) al Qaeda operatives, over many years. While the heroism of many Americans on 9/11/2001 should never be belittled, no mention is ever made of the contributions of those outside US boundaries. Yet again a case of: if you're not American, you don't matter.
    Well done, Newfoundlanders!

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  5. Hi WWW

    What a great story. Thanks. I'll look out for this book.

    xxx

    Pants

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  6. Nice to see the silver lining behind that dreadful cloud of 9/11,WWW.

    It's good that Newfoundland is featured. Until I read your blog I knew next to nothing about the country (is it a country or a province?) It tends to be over-shadowed by its more vociferous neighbours to the left!

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  7. Laura:
    yes the story continues with visits exchanged, a school gym built by the charmed waylaid travellers, etc.
    XO
    WWW

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  8. Irene:
    I think when we are rattled out of our day to day complancency we never do know. I think most of us would open our hearts and homes to those frightened travellers.
    XO
    WWW

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  9. Nick:
    yes a true validation of the human spirit and how uplifted we all can be by it.
    XO
    WWW

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  10. RJA:
    There was none of this in the US media (surprise, surprise!) to my knowledge or buried away perhaps. Just when US citizens needed an uplift of spirits, every effort was made to target and then invade an innocent country.
    I am continually sickened by the exploitation of those damaged by 9/11.
    And the incessant bleating continues from the military industrial juggernaut.
    XO
    WWW

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  11. Pants:
    You would so enjoy it, my copy is lent out, if it comes back soon I will send to you in the wild outposts of OZ!
    XO
    WWW

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  12. It's been a province of Canada since 1949, T. Prior to then it had a very checkered history. Battles sometimes breaking out between the French, English and Irish. It was even independent for a while!
    XO
    WWW

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  13. ah, i remember when this happened. (there was indeed mention of this in the american media. but there was so much coverage that it's not surprising it was missed by many.)

    but i didn't know there was a book. i'm glad to know this, and i'll get it.

    and rja, i respectfully ask you not tar us all with quite such a broad brush.

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