Posts Tagged With: 9/11

The Only Plane In the Sky

20 years later, I still vividly remember sitting in my grade 11 English class as my teacher wheeled a TV in and turned on the news just as the second plane hit the tower. I grew up in a small Canadian town and at this point, I had never been to NYC. This attack seemed so far away from my teenage reality and yet the feeling of horror and anger I felt as we watched the coverage for the rest of class is something that has stayed with me.

The first time I went to New York City was in 2007. I was there on September 11th and remember heading down to a memorial service being held near where the Twin Towers had once stood and listening as they read the names of those who lost their lives on 9/11. The names seemed to go on forever as we stood there on that dreary, grey day.

Having seen the site where that act of terror occurred made it feel even more real to me that day, and becoming a flight attendant 5 years later gave the terrorists’ weapon of choice a much deeper meaning.

NYC has become one of my favourite places to visit and now every time my plane begins its descent towards the city, my thoughts wander to the passengers and crew on those planes that hit the towers. During our initial training, we covered what to do in the event of a hijacking, but I’m not sure anything could really prepare you for that. And yet, the flight attendants did all they could to protect those in their cabins.

I recently read/listened to the audiobook, The Only Plane In The Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garret M. Graff. I’ve read a number of books about different aspects of 9/11, but this book, based on the oral histories of over 500 people, was something unique. Through all the different interviews, it really gives you insight into what was happening around the United States that day, beginning with everyone’s commentary on how nice a day it was and how the sky was a beautiful clear blue. It continues on through the events of the day and the few days following as rescue efforts continued.

The book includes accounts from survivors who worked in the towers, firefighters, police, rescue workers, military, news reporters, government workers, eyewitnesses, etc., but the ones that hit me the hardest were the recordings from the cabin crew calling those on the ground to get the word out about what was happening on board, reporting who had been injured and what they were being told. The messages being left by passengers to their loved ones, saying that their plane had been hijacked and sending final messages of love to them also hit me hard.

It made me think about those I would want to call and relay messages to and the importance of telling your loved ones how you feel. The book is filled with stories of love and hope and the kindness of those dropping everything to help any way they could—the bright light on a day filled with so much terror and hate.

This post surfaces around this time each year and always brings tears to my eyes thinking about all the loss, but also about how we always have the choice to choose hope and love.

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17 years

17 years have gone by, yet I still remember so clearly sitting in my English class as my teacher wheeled in a t.v., and watching the devastating images of a second plane crashing into the Twin Towers in New York City. I remember thinking how much anger and hate you must carry with you to be able to knowingly take so many innocent lives and how life can change in an instant.  This feeling has always hit me every September 11th, but since becoming a flight attendant myself, it’s only grown stronger.

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While September 11th always brings back feelings of terror, hate and loss, it was also a day where people came together with love and compassion.

Some of my favourite stories of this come from Gander, Newfoundland.  The recent musical ‘Come From Away,’  is based on a collection of true accounts of the days that followed September 11th, when 38 planes were grounded there after the American airspace was closed following the attacks.  I’ve seen the musical three times so far, and it continues to hit me just as hard. If you haven’t seen it and it’s playing anywhere near you – GO SEE IT!

There is also a book I just finished re-reading called, “The Day the World Came to Town- 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland”,  that shares stories from passengers, crew and the townspeople who generously dropped everything and opened their doors to the “plane people” who arrived in their small town.

These stories make me so proud to be a Canadian and remind me that even in the darkest times, love and kindness will always overpower hate.

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The Day the World Came to Town

We all remember where we were on September 11th, 2001 when reports came in of planes hitting the Twin Towers in New York City. I was sitting in English class, when my teacher wheeled a t.v. in. We all sat in shocked silence, watching the terror unfold and automatically thinking of those who were on the planes and those who were in the towers and surrounding area.

Immediately, United States airspace was closed and aircraft were ordered to land at the nearest airport. Thirty-eight planes were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland. Right away, the people of Gander started making preparations for the 6,595 passengers and crew that would be landing in their small town of 10,000 over the next couple of hours.

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The Day the World Came to Town – 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede, tells the stories of the “plane people” who found themselves in Gander and the friendly Newfoundlanders who welcomed them with open arms. From the moment the first plane landed, everyone in Gander and surrounding towns stopped what they were doing and did everything they could to help. People began setting up shelters, cooking and supplying meals and snacks, and chauffeuring the people from the planes to anywhere they wanted to go, or just giving them a tour of the town.

There was always someone available at each of the shelters twenty-four hours a day, just in case anyone needed something. They invited people into their homes to use phones, computers and showers and did whatever they could to help the passengers during their stay in Gander, which lasted almost a week.

During this time of devastation, people stripped their houses bare of sheets and towels, and offered the use of their vehicles. Pharmacists filled prescriptions from all over the world at no cost. Local businesses emptied their shelves of food, clothing, toys and toiletries. The Canadian Tire in town was given instructions by its head office to provide whatever was required at no expense.

It was a time of sharing and camaraderie between the locals and those who had been displaced there. Meals and stories were shared and some of the lucky passengers were made honorary Newfoundlanders after being “screeched in” at a local pub. (This involves drinking locally brewed liquor called Screech and kissing a codfish!)

9/11 was a day of terror and loss; but in Gander, Newfoundland, it was also a place of love, compassion and humanity

Categories: North America, Travel Books, Uncategorized, Where in the World | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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