The Day The World Came To Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland

Paperback | August 14, 2003

byJim Defede

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"For the better part of a week, nearly every man, woman, and child in Gander and the surrounding smaller towns stopped what they were doing so they could help. They placed their lives on hold for a group of strangers and asked for nothing in return. They affirmed the basic goodness of man at a time when it was easy to doubt such humanity still existed."

When thirty-eight jetliners bound for the United States were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland, on September 11, 2001, due to the closing of United States airspace, the citizens of this small community were called upon to come to the aid of more than six thousand displaced travelers.

Roxanne and Clarke Loper were excited to be on their way home from a lengthy and exhausting trip to Kazakhstan, where they had adopted a daughter, when their plane suddenly changed course and they found themselves in Newfoundland. Hannah and Dennis O'Rourke, who had been on vacation in Ireland, were forced to receive updates by telephone on the search for their son Kevin, who was among the firefighters missing at the World Trade Center. George Vitale, a New York state trooper and head of the governor's security detail in New York City who was returning from a trip to Dublin, struggled to locate his sister Patty, who worked in the Twin Towers. A family of Russian immigrants, on their way to the Seattle area to begin a new life, dealt with the uncertainty of conditions in their future home.

The people of Gander were asked to aid and care for these distraught travelers, as well as for thousands more, and their response was truly extraordinary. Oz Fudge, the town constable, searched all over Gander for a flight-crew member so that he could give her a hug as a favor to her sister, a fellow law enforcement officer who managed to reach him by phone. Eithne Smith, an elementary-school teacher, helped the passengers staying at her school put together letters to family members all over the world, which she then faxed. Bonnie Harris, Vi Tucker, and Linda Humby, members of a local animal protection agency, crawled into the jets' cargo holds to feed and care for all of the animals on the flights. Hundreds of people put their names on a list to take passengers into their homes and give them a chance to get cleaned up and relax.

The Day the World Came to Town is a positively heartwarming account of the citizens of Gander and its surrounding communities and the unexpected guests who were welcomed with exemplary kindness.

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From the Publisher

"For the better part of a week, nearly every man, woman, and child in Gander and the surrounding smaller towns stopped what they were doing so they could help. They placed their lives on hold for a group of strangers and asked for nothing in return. They affirmed the basic goodness of man at a time when it was easy to doubt such humani...

Jim DeFede has been an award-winning journalist for sixteen years, first with the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, and then with the Miami New Times. His work has appeared in Talk, The New Republic, and Newsday. He is currently ametro columnist for the Miami Herald.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 0.58 inPublished:August 14, 2003Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0060559713

ISBN - 13:9780060559717

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Customer Reviews of The Day The World Came To Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland


Rated 4 out of 5 by from No Price Tags on the Doors of Newfoundland I enjoyed how Defede took time to give some background information on Newfoundland as a province and the importance of Gander International Airport in aviation. The famous Newfoundland hospitality really speaks for itself. This book describes how Newfoundlanders donated everything from towels and bedding to clothing and even the use of their own bathrooms, to make sure their unexpected visitors had everything they needed. As an old song goes: "There are No Price Tags on the Doors of Newfoundland" This topic is important in that it shows a strong friendship between our (Canadian and American) two countries. When one country is in crisis, another stepped up to offer aid. I would recommend this book to those who are interested in Canadian-American relations and those who enjoy reading nonfiction.
Date published: 2016-02-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Must Read One of my favourite books! Made me proud to be a Canadian!
Date published: 2015-09-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Day The World Came To Town Loved it! Heartwarming! Way to go Newfoundland. Doing all Canadians proud. The book is well written and the personal stories are captivating.
Date published: 2015-09-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from . Really enjoyed this book! Very interesting and some wonderful moments.
Date published: 2014-01-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must read On 9-11 terrorists destroyed part of America, but what they didn't count on was the fact that something beautiful came out of their acts. This book shows the spirit of our people, the strength of humans and our ability to unite, and overcome anything. Thanks for telling this truly amazing story.
Date published: 2013-11-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Day the World Came to Town After so many years, it is heartening to hear that there are still good and caring people in the world!
Date published: 2013-11-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my absolute favourites. This book reminds me of what it means to be a Canadian, and what it means to be be a human being. Although an American from Florida who had never been to Newfoundland before venturing out to write this book, Jim Defede managed to capture the true heart that Newfoundlanders are famous for. The premise of the book may seem simple at first blush: when US airspace was closed on Sept. 11, planes from all over the world had to land instead of continuing on into America. Canada was an obvious place to land them. However, the events that took place when a small town took in thousands of "houseguests" is far from simple. The stories in this collection of recollections are varied as the people who were forced together in Gander in the days following 9/11. They made me laugh, cry, and want to read them out loud. I recommend this book to all Canadians. It reminds me of why I love my country. I hope it will remind others as well.
Date published: 2009-08-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Almost maked me cry!!!!!!!!!!! This book was so heart warming.I keeping back my tears in some parts.I am dam proud to be a Newfoundlander and proud of the newfie way.Great book give it to my friend now told her she has to read it.
Date published: 2009-01-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A tribute to value of kindness everywhere This book make me proud to be a Canadian. I picked it up in anticipaton of an upcoming trip to Newfoundland and it was a short and gratifying read. In the face of the sad circumstances that caused the six thousand passengers to be stranded in Gander..the outpouring and consideration by the people of Gander was much needed to offset the stress and pain many were feeling. It was routine for residents to invite passengers into their home, loan out cars, ferry people around town...pretty much anything. There was a charter flight from Manchester which was ferrying children to Disneyworld, many as a birthday gift. The town put on a birthday party for those children. In order to ease the stress of the passengers who were leaving the RCMP officer who was checking and processing them through received permission to wear his full dress as a happy parting memory. The list of kindnesses went on and on. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2008-02-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great feel good book!!! This book had a profound effect on me. If you want to read a book that helps restore your faith in the world, this is one for you. It made me proud to be Canadian and inspired me to keep an open heart and help others. I heartily recommend it for everyone!
Date published: 2007-12-17

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Editorial Reviews

“A wonderful and engaging account that reaffirms the remarkable humanity and kindness that flourished in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.” (Gerald Posner, author of Case Closed and Killing the Dream)