Gander praised on 10th anniversary of 9-11 attacks

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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Thirty-eight diverted planes lined the runways of Gander International Airport after terrorist attacks in the U.S., on Sept. 11, 2001. — File Photo

GANDER, N.L. — Canadians are marking the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks today with events in several cities including the tiny Newfoundland community that sheltered stranded air travellers.

A memorial service will be held in Gander that will be attended by  U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson and Premier Kathy Dunderdale.

Gander turned itself into the temporary home of thousands of people on international flights that were diverted when the U.S. closed its airspace after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Residents welcomed strangers into their homes, prescriptions were filled without charge, and schools and church halls became shelters.

The hospitality that Gander residents showed to roughly 6,700 stranded travellers won the enduring gratitude of Americans. Their town was recognized last week with an international resiliency award in Washington.

Today’s memorial is to be held in at a local hockey rink that became a giant walk-in fridge for food donated for the stranded travellers.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is in New York to attend anniversary events at Ground Zero. There are also events planned for Ottawa, Edmonton, Toronto and Calgary.

Harper formally designated today as a national day of service to pay tribute to both the victims and the Canadian communities who gave shelter to stranded travellers.

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Read The Telegram's original stories from Sept. 11, 2001 and the days that followed.

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U.S. President Barack Obama sent a letter to Harper last week thanking Canadians for their help, saying Canada showed itself to be a true friend during one of the darkest moments in U.S. history.

Obama paid special tribute to the residents of Gander.

“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,” Obama wrote.

The president also thanked Canada for its help in the war on terrorism.

A Harris-Decima Canadian Press poll indicated that 75 per cent of respondents feel the Canadian government has adapted well to the post 9-11 world, but less than half feel the U.S. government has done so.

Canadians are also self-critical on whether Muslims have been treated fairly in Canada, the poll suggests. It found just 49 per cent of respondents feel Muslims have been treated fairly, compared to 39 per cent who felt the opposite.

Just over 1,000 Canadians were interviewed for the survey between Sept. 1 and Sept. 4. The poll is considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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See archival photos of the attacks and response to them or find more stories on 9-11 and the decade that has followed within our Special Report, "9-11: 10 Years Later."

Or read personal memories of Sept. 11, 2001 and leave your thoughts at our memorial page "Remembering 9-11."

Organizations: World Trade Center, Harris-Decima Canadian Press

Geographic location: Gander, U.S., Canada Newfoundland New York Ground Zero Ottawa Edmonton Toronto

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Recent comments

  • Barry Porritt,
    September 15, 2011 - 11:29

    My mother Mary was on a virgin airways flight bound for Orlando,on what was the start of a six week holiday at our house on Florida's west coast,after the attack and resulting confusion ,it was not untill 9-14 with the help of a wonderful Gander based family we'd found online that we were able to confirm that she was in Gander and being looked after Royally and for that i and the rest of the family will always be grateful to the people of Gander,Thank You.

  • Kathryn Erskine
    September 11, 2011 - 08:33

    A couple of my best friends were diverted to Gander from London on 9/11. Thank you for taking such great care of them, and everyone with them. We are all so grateful. Having lived in St. John's as a teenager, I was proud of my Newfie friends -- but not at all surprised. You're some special, moy dears! Kathryn Erskine 2010 National Book Award for Young People, Mockingbird

    • Stephen Carmona
      September 11, 2011 - 13:15

      I am a US citizen listening to a news report about the Canadian Airports and their citizen's contributions on 9-11. The most impressive story is about the people of Grander and how they helped the stranded airline passengers. You are an amazing group of people and I thank you for all that you did to help.

    • Robert Burton
      September 11, 2011 - 13:45

      Cnadian Friends, I was piloting a B-767 for Delta 10 years ago today from Madrid to New York and diverted into Saint Johns after the attacks on America. I wanted to take this time to thank all Canadians for the assistance they gave me and my passengers on that day. The French gave the United States the Statue of Liberty. I'm not sure what I can give Canada to express my gratitude but know that someday, in perhaps some unthinkable dark day for Canada, I, we, will be there for you. God bless Canada. Sincerely, Robert D. Burton colonelburton@ymail.com