The Day the World Came to Town

Jim Defede

Nonfiction 2002 | 244 pages


This is a fascinating and inspiring story that I certainly missed, and perhaps you did, too. On 9/11, thirty-eight jetliners bound for the United States (commercial, military, and private) were forced to land at Gander International Airport in Newfoundland, Canada.  6595 passengers and crew and a dozen animals descended on this town with a population of 10,000.  This is the inspiring story of how the people (the heroes) of Gander cared for stranded passengers with gestures of friendship and acts of kindness and goodwill.

The unintentional visitors were housed in schools, the VA Hall, the Salvation Army, churches, and townsfolk's homes.  The town rose to the occasion, taking the sheets off their beds and the towels and sheets from their linen closet to these locales.  The people of Gander cooked for them, provided showers, medicine, toys, access to phones, beer and most of all, listening ears and hearts filled with compassion. Local businesses such as WalMart and Canadian Tire donated camping equipment and as many clean clothes as they could scrounge up.

It is a hopeful record of the best of humanity ... generous, thoughtful, and deeply caring.  Gander embraced all these strangers for four or five or six days, dropped everything else they were doing, and made these temporary refugees very welcome.

This isn't a long book, and is certainly an easy read.  Frankly, I think we all could benefit from reading this book, and regaining a modicum of hope in our world and caring for our co-inhabitants on Planet Earth.

September 2023


2 responses on “The Day the World Came to Town

  1. Carol

    I’ve been to Gander on a tour to Newfoundland and this book was a recommended read. The town is not a resort town by any means, quite ordinary gone on some hard times. And yet the residents shared everything. There is a musical based on the event called COME FROM AWAY. The writers went to Gander and talked with many people involved. Before the play opened a small troop of players put the play on in Gander. The folks who saw it that I talked with said the play was spot on. Seeing the play is on my bucket list.

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