Flags lowered at city hall

Andrew Robinson
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St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe lowers the American flag at 10:16 a.m. Sunday to recognize the 10th anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks in the United States. —Photo by Andrew Robinson/The Telegram

St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe was delivering flyers for a re-election campaign 10 years ago when he first learned of the tragic events unfolding in New York City.

“I saw this happening on the screen,” he said, standing in front of St. John’s City Hall Sunday morning. “I thought it was a movie that the employees were keeping an eye on, until one of them indicated to me that this was real. This plane was actually flying into the tower.”

The mayor and city commissioner Austin Mercer lowered the American, Canadian, and city flags at 10:16 a.m. in front of city hall Sunday to recognize the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11th attacks that killed almost 3,000 people.

10:16 a.m. marked the exact moment 10 years ago the first of two planes struck one of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

“We just hope there’s a brighter future for everybody and maybe this symbolic lowering of the flag,  and in particular the nestling of the American flag between the city flag and Canadian flag is indicative of the terrific relationship that we have between the city, the United States, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Canada,” said the mayor.

Half a dozen people were on hand.

Along with the sadness attached to the terrorist attacks that crashed four airplanes and collapsed the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, O’Keefe spoke of the kindness shown by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to airline passengers stranded in the province after thousands of planes were grounded across North America.

At St. John’s International Airport, 27 planes arrived that day carrying 4,300 passengers and crew.

“Through a terrific effort (from) residents and people in the surrounding communities and the provincial government, we provided solace, counsel, protection and shelter.”

The mayor said there were almost as many volunteers as there were stranded passengers in St. John’s.

Alhough he was a councillor at large fighting for re-election with two weeks to go before voters would cast their ballots, O’Keefe said campaigning became less important from that moment on.

“Effectively, the election pretty well ceased at that point in time. That was amazing too, because everything else just seemed so trivial after that. It was difficult to go door-to-door and talk about electioneering when people had absolute terror in their mind, and their perception of the world had changed.”


Twitter: TeleAndrew

Organizations: World Trade Center, International Airport

Geographic location: New York City, United States, Newfoundland and Labrador Canada North America.At St. John

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Recent comments

  • Mark
    September 12, 2011 - 14:40

    Flags at the airport WERE at half mast yesterday. I dropped people off in the afternoon and noted it.

  • Political watcher
    September 12, 2011 - 12:09

    One observation from yesterday: the flags at St. John's Internaional Airport were not lowered to half mast. Thought this was odd.....

    • Mildred
      September 12, 2011 - 18:43

      As a Newfoundlander away, I am saddened by the negative comments of some of your readers. Take time to reflect on the sadness & grief of so many people who lost loved ones 9/11 and whose lives are changed forever. The help,love,kindness and support Newfoundlanders offered those' plane people', will never be forgotten. That is no surprise because Newfoundlanders are kind & generous people who take care of each other!

  • townie
    September 12, 2011 - 09:53

    I'm surprised by this article. I was under the impression that O'Keefe ignores anything that doesn't benefit himself.