On 9/11 44,000 passengers and crew travelling on 255 aircraft were diverted from their destinations in the United States to Canada for safe refuge. 7,000 of those travellers landed in Gander, Newfoundland. Gander had a population of 11,000 people. Basically, the community boosted its population by 66% in a matter of hours. Gander and neighbouring communities of Appleton, Gambo, Glenwood, Lewisporte and Norris Arm rolled up their sleeves to welcome these unexpected visitors.
The Town of Appleton (pop. 582) hosted 80 of these diverted travellers, thereby immediately increasing their population by 15%. After ‘the plane people’ left, the people of Appleton, without fanfare, continued to remember them – and others. Each September 11th they hold a remembrance ceremony. This video is part of their ninth anniversary event on September 11, 2010. As you see by the flapping flags, it was a windy day. It was also cold and rainy. But people still came out to honour and remember.
The service also included a reading of the poem, The September Snow, and a moment of silence.
In thanks for the care and compassion shown by the people of Appleton the Port Authority of New York, State of New Jersey and Government of the United States sent the community part of a steel beam from The World Trade Centre. It holds pride of place in the community’s Riverfront Peace Park, where the annual remembrance service is held.
Beyond the horror of that day, it’s worth thinking of the message of Carole King’s iconic song, “You’ve Got A Friend.”
(Please excuse the dodgy camerawork, it was a really windy day.)