On 9/11/2001, I landed via ferry at Juneau, Alaska, about six hours after the attack. During that week, I missed much of what was reported on the news. I had never heard the story that Tom Brokaw reported recently of Gander International Airport and the incredibly generous people of Newfoundland. Two hundred and forty flights were rerouted to Canada, 39 to Gander during the freezing of US airspace on 9/11/01. If you did not see this, find it on the Internet. It is an amazing and heartwarming story of people who were being the best they could be when our country was attacked by those who were being the worst they could be.
For two nights and three days following 9/11, approximately 7,000 marooned and frightened passengers and flight crews with no luggage and therefore no clothes, prescriptions, etc. were processed, fed, housed, clothed, and comforted by kindhearted and compassionate “Newfies.” Even striking school bus drivers came back to work to drive these unexpected visitors wherever they needed to go. The stories are many and extremely interesting.
My experience with Gander International Airport was in June of 1998. I watched a video from 12/12/1985. A DC-8 landed for refueling on a journey from peacekeeping duties in the Middle East to a destination at Fort Campbell, KY for Christmas. On takeoff, it crashed and the 248 American soldiers, mostly from the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division, plus 8 crewmembers, were killed. That story also told of the amazing cooperation and compassion between Canada and the United States. A Silent Witness Memorial at Gander commemorates “the precise moment when 256 dreams ended and the hearts and imaginations of an entire world were captured.”
These are only two stories involving our friends with whom we share the world’s longest undefended border. There are many. God Bless until next time.
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At 45, Widow Minshall began 20 years of solo full-time RVing throughout Alaska, Mexico, and Canada. Sharlene canoed the Yukon, mushed sled dogs, worked a dude ranch, visited Hudson Bay polar bears, and lived six months on a Mexican beach. She lectured at Life on Wheels, published six RV-related books and wrote a novel, “Winter in the Wilderness.”