Your recollections of 9/11 ...and how it changed our lives?
Sunday September 11th on Cross Country Checkup: thoughts on 9/11
Ten years ago when two hijacked airliners sliced into New York's twin towers, the whole world stopped in awe.
But for the people of Gander, Newfoundland, the effect was more concrete, as plane-loads of people diverted from the U.S. started landing, almost doubling the city's population in a matter of hours.
What were you doing then ...what are your memories of 9/11? How has that one event changed our lives today?
Join host Rex Murphy live from Gander, Sunday on Cross Country Checkup.
Among all the places, in America, and all over the world, where they are marking the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and marking it rightly, in sorrow and commemoration for those who suffered and died and the families of such people, there is one place when the commemoration -- while it subtracts nothing from the gravity of the anniversary -- is actually celebrating something else; something at the opposite pole to the evil and nihilism of the terror attacks and the people who perpetrated them. And that is here in Gander, Newfoundland, and some of the smaller towns surrounding Gander.
Here something unique has been going on: a commemoration of 9/11, certainly -- singularly marked with the arrival of steel from the downed towers -- but also a great celebration of friendships, deeds of kindness and hospitality, and the simply affectionate wonder that grew up between two groups of people thrown together by the events of 9/11.
For it was in Gander and the surrounding towns that so many of the passengers of planes called down that day -- some near 40 of them -- were taken in, cared for, entertained and in many cases simply overwhelmed by the unstinted hospitality they received.
And 10 years later: another wonder. Many of the Americans from that period, who have already started scholarships in gratitude, or been back for personal reunions, or simply told their stories over the years, have come back to Gander to refresh their acquaintance with the Newfoundlanders they met and came to know. Yesterday, for example, in what I think was a brilliant gesture both of thanks and a little fun, they -- the once stranded passengers -- served breakfast to the Newfoundlanders who 10 years ago packed lunches and did what they could over three and four days to feed the additional 7,000 people who were startlingly, wandering around their town, or Gambo, Appletown, or Lewisporte.
Gander and those towns set the standard for human response to those in distress and anxiety, and so cast a light of brilliant contrast to the horror and meanness of the terrorist deed. Here is the counter impulse to terrorism: the desire to help, to succor when needed, to be cheerful in charity, and to build friendships out of hard times. Checkup is here in Gander today -- and pleased to be so -- to talk a little about the minor miracles of that day, why the story out of Newfoundland has had such reach and resonance, and to let the rest of Canada hear from some of the very people most affected. Both those who lived in Gander, and those who arrived, so suddenly and in such anxiety on that day 10 years back.
For others across Canada who watched in horror as the events in the U.S. unfolded, many felt a strong urge to help too in some way -- in any way. We want to hear from you too. Those of you who watched from afar, what was going through your minds? Where were you, and what were you doing? What was your reaction?
Many here in this area of Newfoundland did not have much time to reflect on the scale of those events as they rushed to help those who descended from the skies. They've had 10 years now and those they helped have returned in gratitude. How has this event changed us and our lives?
I'm Rex Murphy ...on CBC Radio One ...and on Sirius satellite radio channel 159 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.
- Claude Elliott
Mayor of Gander, Newfoundland
- Beverley Bass
Retired captain of American Airlines flight 49
- Oz Fudge
Gander Municipal Police constsable
- Harper says post-9/11 Canada safer, more confident
- A Special Report: 9/11 Ten Years Later
- The caregiver: Helping others a way of life for Beulah Cooper
Globe and Mail
- Sept. 11 terror attacks on United States sent shock waves north
- 9/11 a defining event in their lifetime, Canadians tell survey
I can't help but think the acts of kindness shown 10 years ago at Gander and area, St. John's, Stephenville, Deer Lake and Happy Valley Goose Bay are all a part of our culture brought about over hundreds of years living in isolated bays and coves and having to comfort those who lost love ones from tragedies at sea and otherwise.
Conception Bay South, Newfoundland.
I feel that the Americans have not learned anything from 9-11; they never asked themselves why it happened, but rather they rushed to judgement and jerk reaction, and in the process dragged the world to a decade of war and suffering and insecurity. They continue to look at everything through the narrow prism of "American interest" and fail to consider the rest of the planet. They continue to bully everyone, to actively participate in regime changes (Noriega, Sadam, The Taliban, Mubarak, Gadafi, etc - none of them nice guys, but many of them one time tolerated when not supported) and to turn a blind eye to Israel's trespassings - unconditionally. As long as America and the West continue on this path of me, myself and I, the current situation will prevail. It will take more than fancy speeches and hollow gestures to appease the extremists.
I would not know exactly where to start, but I suspect that armed reprisals or political isolation is not the right way to start. So much damage has been inflicted on both sides of this immense gulf, and it will take someone special to kick start the process. I had thought the Obama might be the man to do it with his first speech in Egypt, but there was no follow through. What a shame.
On Sept.11 /01 my husband and I were mowing the grass, when I looked up to the sky. There, right above our house, were 4 or 5 jet trails making U-turns. Since we had not tuned into any news before we started mowing, we were unaware of what had happened. After turning on the TV we understood what the U-turns were all about. That's where we were on that fateful day.
Little Narrows, Nova Scotia.
My (now) wife and I just left Camden Council in London UK upon registering to get married when I rang my parents in Kingston to confirm their flights for the UK for our upcoming October wedding. My father asked me a pointed question right away "where are you?" I replied in the city. Get out of the city he replied and explained what was happening in NYC. I worked at The American School in London too - so there was considerable concern for colleges and friends. After several days we pressed ahead with our wedding - my folks flew over. Our wedding was not only lovely for the two of us but also cathartic for so many of us after the trauma of the previous month.
Auckland, New Zealand.
The crazies have won Part One of their mission and we let them. We, citizens of the West, are less free and becoming bankrupt with an over-reaching and often times, silly defence. Let's go back to where we were, free and confident and very wary, but not so paronoid that we worry everyday that about .005% of the world's nuts will kill us.
Vancouver, British Columbia.
One of my strongest memories of Sept. 11 was that our youngest son was particularly upset by the constant coverage and so, after watching the news that first night, we decided to turn off our television and instead tuned in to CBC Radio Two. For the next few weeks, our home was filled with quiet, classical music.
Yes there were positive outcomes of 9/11.
I wanted to do something... so I went to Canadian Blood Services and gave blood for the first time. I have given 29 times and will continue. I plan to give blood as long as I can. What else could one do on such a day?
I also had friends stranded as the skies were eerily quiet those days. Thank you to the people of Gander and all the province of Newfoundland for reaching out to help. They make me very proud and are an inspiration for kindness.
I am a proud Canadian -- proud of our accomplishments, our people and what we stand for. One of the proudest moments I have ever experienced was upon hearing about the people of Newfoundland and how they not only performed an unbelievable feat at Gander Airport but also took so many people in their homes and "under their wings" as a result of September 11. No one was surprised at the depth of their compassion or generosity, and yet we were humbled by their unwavering sense of duty and care. I can only hope that my family and I can work towards living the example which you have set for us.
How has 9/11 changed me? I have become more cynical about misinformation (or denial of facts) given out by media and government. Although I appreciate the sweet nostalgia of your topic, it concerns me that no CBC program is covering a very important conference happening in Toronto this weekend at Ryerson University, organized by the International Center for 9/11 studies -- this first independent scientific study to ever be done about 9/11. International scientists, physicists, architects and professors are making live presentations.
I am shocked and disappointed that, while scouring all the CBC sites, I have found no one covering this conference. It further fuels my deep cynicism that has come from the 'nostalgia' of 9/11, rather than the lack of scientific investigation about one of the greatest tragedies of our time.
Vancouver, British Columbia.
I was in high school that morning and suddenly around 9:30, we were let out of class early. People were talking about what happened in class. Honestly, I think all those students in class should've kept their mouths shut when they kept saying stuff like "is World War III gonna start tonight?" or the end of the world is near. They kept teasing me even out of class by saying the same doomsday stuff.
During those times when Afghanistan was gonna get attacked, I was convinced the end of the world was imminent. I don't think I'll ever recover from that traumatized day. 10 years later, we're still a long way from fully recovering from that day we will never forget. The only way to stop terrorism is to reach out to one another, win people's hearts and religious tolerance. My thoughts and prayers still go out to those families still.
I was working as a corporate travel consultant in Mississauga, ON, at the time... still on my way to work when the first plane hit. By the time I got settled at my desk the second plane had collided and there was talk of terrorist attacks. My very first reaction was to contact a close friend of mine working in lower Manhattan. I did manage to get through to him by phone, made sure he was OK and hear a first hand account of the mayhem unfolding. The second order of business was to get out all client files; people that were overseas and scheduled to fly back, travellers in Canada and the U.S. scheduled to return home on Sep 11th and the days following. As much of Amtrak was also grounded, we found buses, alternate airlines and landing airports in some cases, simply affordable accommodations in others. One of my passengers was stuck in Italy for 5 days.
However, in keeping with your show today, I'd like to extend a huge Thank You and appreciation to the people of Gander and beyond for displaying the Canadian spirit and hospitality. I am immensely proud to be (almost) Canadian -- in my view and experience, this is what Canada is all about: generosity, hospitality, and caring. And, as much as the rest of us like to make fun of 'Newfies' every Newfoundlander I've ever encountered has been the essence of just that.
I was living near Golden, British Columbia. The Timber Framers Guild of North America was in the middle of a volunteer project there, a hand built timber frame pedestrian bridge over the Kicking Horse river right in town, a wonderful addition to the community. The town was billeting the timber framers in local homes and extra labour was provided by local volunteers and I was working in that role on 9/11.
The timber framers were from all over the world with a large contingent from the USA. Someone had a little portable TV in his camper and brought it outside on a picnic table where we watched the towers fall. Some of the Americans were Gulf War veterans and they were wondering aloud what the months and years ahead would bring. Sadly the worst of their prophecies have been realized. I remember the very surreal atmosphere on the work site that day as we worked to build this beautiful structure while those towers came down.
Unfortunately the bloody minded lunacy of the terrorists was matched by some of the American leaders, most especially Dubya and his puppet master Cheney and rather than co-operate with the world to root out the criminals, a "War On Terror" was launched, with a side excursion to uninvolved but oil rich Iraq and the death toll of innocents is now in the hundreds of thousands
There are ten steel girders from the World Trade Center buildings in the International Peace Garden that straddles Manitoba and North Dakota in 2002. Later they were buiilt into a memorial. The governor of North Dakota and the premier of Manitoba often attend the annual remembrance ceremonies, including today.
Hearing the people talk today draws tears to my eyes. For the past days we have been seeing the most horrible images of September 11th return. Seeing the images again makes it clear that September 11th was truly the day where freedom and liberty were attacked.
As a guest previously said, September 11th showed both the most evil and the most good of what humanity is capable of. I had forgotten how the people of Gander had shown to the world how Canadians are among the most compassionate people in the world. Thank you for bringing back the memory and for giving a positive eye regarding this day of infamy.
For several years, I served as one of two Canadians on the Board of KSPS television, the Public Broadcaster for Alberta from Spokane, Washington. My clleague Bob Turner was the representative from Edmonton and I represented Calgary.
In 2001 we had convinced the Board of KSPS to hold a Board meeting and a tour in Edmonton. Fourteen or fifteen of the Board meembers made the trip to Edmonton on September 10th, 2011. At quarter to seven the next morning we met in the offices of Mayor Bill Smith and we had just poured coffee when the Mayor's assistant suggested that we may want to watch the television.
Thus began an amazing day. We just started to watch the T.V. when the second plane hit. Of course, the initial reaction was shock and a desire on behalf of our U.S. friends to get home as soon as possible. After further discussion, we decided to carry on with the day. The people of Edmonton were amazing. Every office we visited hugged our friends, expressed their condolences and offered whatever help they could. Flags were lowered and even as we walked down Jasper Avenue, people stopped us and said "Are you the group from Spokane?" then would follow up with such warm comments that I was proud to be a Canadian. One of our friends said "I don't think I had any idea how close this relationship really is.
The next day we got them onto a bus to Calgary and from Calgary we used three company vans to take them to the U.S. border where they were met by a van from the station. All of us have reflected often on that day and this week, I have received a number of calls and e-mails from these folks with recollections. Even in the face of evil and criminaltity, great friendships and good things can emerge. I will never forget that day and I am sure none of the people from Spokane will ever forget the care and concern they found in Edmonton that day.
On the day that the planes hit the Twin Towers, I was teaching drama in a junior/senior high school in Hinton. The whole day was spent in discussion, regardless of the class. Our students worried about the impact this would have on their world and I distinctly remember talking to them about the draft, because we all thought this could result in a world war.
That night I had to drive to Edmonton and kept the radio on the whole time, even when all I could get is static. Whenver the radio would cut out - as it did for whole swaths of the Yellowhead highway - I felt very cut off from the world. The next day I was in an inservice the whole day, and had no ability to check the news - very disconcerting.
Some months later I saw a documentary about the experiences of the people of Gander and their visitors - I have never felt so proud to be a Canadian.
You and your guests today are a tough crowd. You've got me on the ropes and can't stop the tears coming.
St John's, Newfoundland.
10 years ago today brought out both the worst and best of humanity. As someone who grew up in Gander, I'm incredibly proud and humbled listening to your show today, but, it is fair to say that the same kindness and generosity would have been shown to the stranded travelers in Prince George, Red Deer, Moose Jaw, Brandon, Kingston, Sherbrooke, Saint John, Summerside, or Sydney. It is in all our DNA, Gander is just lucky enough to have the best, little airport on the east coast. Thanks for the show.
Hammonds Plains, Nova Scotia.