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

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On the morning of September 11, 2011, thousands of people were on board planes heading toward New York. When airspace over the city was shut down, hundreds of fights were diverted to other airports — leaving their passengers scared and stranded. In Gander, Newfoundland, the arrival of almost forty planes sparked the small town to rally to their visitors’ aid. Locals invited the passengers into their homes, donated food and linens by the carload, and tried their best to forge connections in a time of tragedy and uncertainty.

The Day the World Came to Town follows a handful of passengers and residents of Gander, including a U.S. general, a couple bringing their newly adopted daughter home for the first time, and the parents of a missing New York firefighter. Bracing and inspiring, Jim DeFede’s account shines a new light on the days following 9/11.

 “Countless stories could be written about the kindness shown in any of these cities.  The focus of this book, however, and the purpose for my unseasonable trip this past winter, is Gander, located in the central highlands of Newfoundland.  Thirty-eight planes landed there on September 11, depositing 6,595 passengers and crew members in a town whose population is barely 10,000.  For the better part of a week, nearly every man, woman, and child in Gander and the surrounding smaller towns — places with names like Gambo and Appleton and Lewisporte and Norris Arm — 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. If the terrorists had hoped their attacks would reveal the weaknesses in western society, the events in Gander proved its strength.”

Jim DeFede is an American journalist, radio host, and author of The Day the World Came to Town.

Published: 2002
Length: 256 pages
Set in: Gander, Newfoundland, Canada