Newfoundland and 9/11

On September 11, 2001, there were hundreds of planes flying from Europe and other parts of the world towards the United States. Within hours of the attack, the airspace over the US was closed and all in-bound flights had to either turn around (if they had enough fuel) or land.

Thirty-eight of those planes landed in the Newfoundland city of Gander. The 10,000 residents of the city took in the nearly 6000 stranded passengers, providing food, shelter, and even clothing. Mostly, they provided comfort and friendship.

During the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 201o, NBC aired a special report on this little-known story, titled “9/11: Operation Yellow Ribbon.” You can watch it here:

There’s also a book about it called The Day the World Came to Town, by Jim Defede. Here’s the description from the back of the book:

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 and surrounding towns were called upon to care of the thousands of distraught travelers.

Their response to this challenge 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, who managed to reach him by phone. Eithne Smith, an elementary-school teacher, helped the passengers sheltered at her school fax letters to loved ones all over the world. And members of a local animal protection agency crawled into the cargo hold of the jets to feed and care for all of the animals on the flights.

These stories and hundreds more are beautifully rendered in The Day the World Came to Town, the true account of a community that exemplifies love, kindness, and generosity.


The Day the World Came to Town Publisher: Harper Paperbacks

My mom found the book in a local store yesterday and promptly bought it. She can’t put it down.

I get it next.