When we think of the planes of September 11th, we think of the three that were overtaken by hijackers. I know that I wasn't giving much thought to the thousands of passengers who were on-board aircraft in mid-flight that needed to land immediately. No one knew if any other plane housed hijackers, and the U.S. wouldn't allow any planes to enter U.S. airspace until things began to make sense. Other countries had to step up, and they did. Of course Canada, being closest to us, took the brunt of the planes coming from Europe.
Gander Mayor Claude Elliott, was a small town mayor who was suddenly faced with an untenable situation. He was told that as many as fifty planes were being diverted to his city. He quickly did the math and realized approximately 12,000 frightened people could soon be landing in his little town. How would he feed them and house them? This amazing man jumped into action, as did a town filled with amazing people. Eventually over 6,000 people did end up landing there, and their stories make for a great read.
People opened their homes to strangers. They shared their food and linens with people from the planes. Shop keepers gave away necessities, and pharmacists filled prescriptions for stranded passengers. A middle school teacher invited a man to use the school's computer center to run his "small business." The man turned out to be Gordon Conway, and the "small business" was the Rockefeller Foundation. The teacher's generous offer was appreciated, and the school was presented with a brand new computer center.
DeFede does an amazing job describing the people of the town and those stranded in Gander. His stories made me laugh, cry and realize that there are so many more good people in this world than the monsters we tend to focus on. It was good to find the good in the most frightening of times. I am so glad that I read this book and heartily recommend it to you.
Publisher - Regan Books
Date of Publication - August 14, 2003