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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander Newfoundland by Jim DeFede

On September 11, 2001 the United States closed its air space in reaction to the 9/11 attacks because it was unknown if there were more attacks planned. While this certainly made sense it created certain problems for the planes that were inbound. Where would they go if they did not have enough fuel to return to their aiports of departure?

It turns out that Gander, Newfoundland had a ready-built solution for 38 planes carrying 6,595 passengers - a gigantic Cold War era runway that was big enough to be an emergency landing runway for a space shuttle.

Jim DeFede

Upon landing, the problem ceased to be a technical problem and quickly became a human problem - what do you do with 6,595 people in a relatively poor town of barely 10,000 people?

Jim DeFede relates the story of church groups, community groups, schools and local businesses rising to the occasion and welcoming strangers from all over the world for 6 days. They slept in their schools, churches, community centers and even in people's homes. Cars were loaned out, homes were left open for anyone to take a shower and people from all over Newfoundland brought food, blankets and towels to share.

This book re-opened the trauma of 9/11 for me but these simple acts of caring demonstrated by the people of Gander, Newfoundland also brought tears to my eyes multiple times. To quote page 7, "If the terrorists had hoped their attacks would reveal the weaknesses in western society, the events in Gander proved its strength."

Highly recommended.

I rate this book an enthusiastic 5 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon here: The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland

Reviewed on December 22, 2010.

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