On 9/11, This Small Town Suddenly Welcomed 7500 Stranded Visitors
On September 11, 2001, thirty eight jumbo jets were forced to land in the small town of Gander. The 7,500 residents banded together to welcome them.
September 11, 2001 showed us the worst and then the best of humanity. The terrorist attacks stopped us in our tracks for a moment. Civilian Americans were suddenly targeted and thrown into a war of Islamic terrorism. That horror suddenly gave way to compassion and camaraderie. 9/11 brought us 9/12 with a remarkable amount of camaraderie. The people of Gander in Newfoundland, Canada are a prime example of that 9/12 spirit.
When terrorists turned those four commercial airplanes into weapons, there were many planes still in the air. It was a terrifying time for air traffic controllers not knowing if any other planes were hijacked and trying to figure out where to suddenly redirect all these aircraft. There were plenty of planes flying over the Atlantic Ocean bound to the United States and North America from abroad. Thirty eight of those jumbo jets landed in the small town of Gander. RELATED: 13 Children of 9/11 Fallen Firefighters Join FDNY To Honor Their Hero Dads
Residents Of Gander Rush To Welcome Stranded 9/11 Passengers
“We quickly rushed in like we had a real crisis on our hands,” Don O’Brien, Air Traffic Controller, NAV Canada remembered. “And it was happening now, not tomorrow, not 6 or 7 hours away. But now.”
The town of Gander and its airport were built by the United States military during World War II as a stopping point for flights to Europe. While this many planes had landed in Gander before, they were smaller planes. Plus the passengers didn’t stay around like those who landed and were stranded on 9/11. Never before had 38 large planes needed to land and deplane over the course of just three hours.
Gander only has 9,000 residents and 500 hotel rooms. Without any warning, the town almost doubled with 7,500 stranded visitors from 90 countries. But, the kind people of Gander rallied together to welcome these people amidst such horror. Private citizens took to their kitchens to ensure those who would be in this small town for nine days had plenty to eat. RELATED: Meghan McCain EVISCERATES Anti-Trump Late Night Host for Defending Ilhan Omar’s 9/11 Comments
These visitors found shelter in schools and churches and private homes. The folks of Gander rolled out the red carpet for their fellow humans.
FDNY Family Stranded In Gander Grateful For Compassion
A video below details some of the compassion these stranded visitors felt when they landed on Gander’s doorstep. Hannah and Dennis O’Rourke, whose son was a FDNY firefighter killed in the World Trade Center, shares her incredibly touching story about how gracefully they were treated as the family struggled to cope with the reality of their heroic son’s death while stranded in this small Canadian town.
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“We are bonded for the rest of our lives.” Hannah O’Rourke said.