OTTAWA — U.S. President Barack Obama has sent a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper thanking Canadians for their friendship and assistance after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In turn, Harper sent a reply to Obama paying tribute to the victims.The letters are re-printed below.
Dear Mr. Prime Minister:
It has often been said that the United States and Canada are great neighbors, trading partners and the best of friends. Friendship gives us comfort and it gives us strength, but can be tested in difficult times. In one of the darkest moments in our history, Canada stood by our side and showed itself to be a true friend.
On the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001, we remember with gratitude and affection how the people of Canada offered us the comfort of friendship and extraordinary assistance that day and in the following days by opening their airports, homes and hearts to us. As airspace over our two countries was shut down, hundreds of flights en route to the United States were landed safely by Canadian air traffic control in seventeen Canadian airports from coast to coast. The small city of Gander, Newfoundland, population 9,600, received 6,600 diverted passengers, while Vancouver received 8,500 people. For the next 3 days — before our air space was reopened — those displaced passengers were treated like family in Canadian homes, receiving food, shelter, medical attention and comfort.
Ten years later, we continue to be grateful for Canada’s friendship, and for the solidarity you continue to show us in our shared fight against terrorism. The United States is fortunate to share a border with a country that understands, in your words, “There is no such thing as a threat to the national security of the United States which does not represent a direct threat to this country.”
On this anniversary, we recognize all the gestures of friendship and solidarity shown to us by Canada and its people, and give thanks for our continuing special relationship.
Signed Barack Obama
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Dear Mr. President:
I join my fellow Canadians in extending to you, and to the people of the United States of America, our sincere expression of solace and remembrance on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
On that infamous morning, the world witnessed murderous acts of terrorism in New York City, Virginia and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Canadians joined their American neighbours, friends and family in mourning the nearly 3,000 innocent lives lost that day, including Canadians. Ten years later, we pay tribute to the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks and honour the survivors and families whose lives were forever altered that day.
September 11 also illustrated the enduring bonds of friendship between Canada and the United States, exemplified when ordinary citizens in the town of Gander, Newfoundland and cities throughout Canada opened their homes and hearts to travellers whose flights had been diverted. Canadians, and the world, drew inspiration from the solidarity, strength and tremendous courage shown on September 11 and in the days following.
Rather than jeopardize our way of life, September 11 reinforced the collective resilience of the United States and Canada, and bolstered our resolve to forge a path to ever-greater mutual and international security. In the last decade, Canada has stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States to fight terrorism worldwide, most notably in Afghanistan, and to ensure greater security for our citizens at home.
On this solemn anniversary, Canada affirms our commitment to stand together with our American friends and allies against the threat of global terrorism, and to uphold our two great nations’ shared principles of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. At this time of remembrance, and in the years ahead, Canadians will continue to keep the victims and families of September 11 in our thoughts and prayers.
Signed Stephen Harper