Sunday, March 21, 2010

O Canada, is 9 years too late to say, "Thank You"?

September 11, 2001 - we all know the tragic events of that fateful day. But do you know the story of the warm-hearted Canadians that came to the rescue of thousands of Americans the same day?

Hopefully you saw Tom Brokaw’s 40+ minute documentary of how Gander, (pop. 10,000) Newfoundland and Labrador stepped up in an enormous way to become a safe haven for 38 jets containing some 7,000 passengers that were grounded when America completely shut-down its air space following the attacks. This inspiring feature was broadcast during the Vancouver Olympics last month.

In case you didn’t see it, this is one to look up; maybe they’ll have portions of it available on YouTube soon. This is a feature I would purchase if it was available. It was a moving tale that left me disappointed to only be learning of it now.

For a small airport that generally handles only 8 domestic flights a day, landing 38 jumbo jets and accommodating 7,000 people (which nearly doubled the population) was a massive undertaking. All of these passengers had to be processed through immigration and taken to temporary shelters, as Gander’s hotel beds are quite limited. The passengers were bussed to schools, churches, legion halls - and what is more, much more, the residents of this most easterly province of Canada, went above and beyond the call of hospitality. They brought cots, blankets, pillows, clothes, cooked hams, casseroles, home-baked goods, bottled water, cell-phones, toys for stores gave products away, pharmacists refilled prescriptions at no cost... people were driven to local churches to pray...all passengers were accommodated with incredible generosity.

It really warms my heart to know this about my northern neighbors...and it makes me wonder why I never read a single headline about it in 2001.

Some of the passengers formed friendships that continue to this day ...and, when it was discovered that the residents of Gander would not accept money from the thankful multitude, a college scholarship fund was created. Would you believe $15,000 was pledged by Americans on the flight returning to the US after their heart-warming stay in Gander? That scholarship, for students in Gander, has now grown to over $900,000 and several of the stranded passengers from that horrific day in September ’01 have returned to visit their hosts and friends.

God bless you, Canada. Thank you for the generous care and grace you showed to our people...

...and, depending on how the healthcare vote goes tonight in the US, I’m wondering, would you welcome another family? ;-)


margaret said...

What a lovely, lovely story. I didn't hear about it at the time either but I'm very glad I have today. People are always talking about how violence and hatred are learned from tv/media and, perhaps it is, so wouldn't it be good if kindness was routinely reported and made much of? Perhaps that would be 'catching' too.

DebD said...

Wow, what a wonderful story and I'm sorry I've never heard of it before. Hurray for Tom Brokaw for bringing this lovely story to light.

Martha said...

Just wanted to say I loved your comments regarding the healthcare bill on "Morning Coffee!" Go Amy!!!

amy said...

Margaret, Amen. I could not agree with you more.

If I were some wealthy billionaire, I could imagine taking great joy in traveling the world to find stories such as this and broadcasting them on my own, ad-free, always positive news channel...

Marfa ~ =') thanks for the kind's always nice to find a kindred..

Kimberly said...

It was a truly amazing story..lost in the debris of all that was happening. I loved seeing it brought to light during the Olympics--and then again here! Thanks.

amy said...

Kimberly -

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I'm glad you stopped by and hope you'll visit again.

God Bless!

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