What were you doing on September 11, 2001?

Globe & Mail Septe 11, 2001 front pageI don’t think anyone will forget September 11, 2001. 

I was at my cottage in Northern Ontario with my family.  It was a warm, sunny day and we had just finished breakfast when the phone rang.  It was my daughter’s husband calling from London, England. “Turn on the TV, a plane has crashed into the twin towers in New York,” he said.  All we could see was the raging inferno that had engulfed the first tower of the World Trade Center. One news report after another; a second plane hit the second tower, a third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington while a fourth crashed in rural Pennsylvania.  Our idyllic day at the cottage had been shattered, and like most people around the world we remained glued to the television in disbelief for hours. 

I contacted my American friends, assuring them they had a safe haven should they need to flee north.  Ridiculous really, but in my mind it was a small way of offering support. Then news began to trickle in about the community in Gander, a town of 10,000 people who handled the sudden influx of 6,600 passengers and crew when 38 jets were grounded in the small Newfoundland town on the east coast of Canada.  Residents in nearby towns welcomed strangers into their homes. Schools and church halls became shelters, while local residents provided endless meals for their unexpected guests. Finally, on Friday September 14, an estimated 100,000 people gathered outdoors on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, the nation’s capital, to remember the  victims and show solidarity with their American neighbours.

Some said the U.S. would never be the same and to some degree they were right.  Like it or not, life has changed for all of us since that terrifying day twelve years ago.  But today, during these uncertain times, I tip my hat to the people of Gander Newfoundland, who showed the world the true meaning of friendship.










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