The Day the World Came to Town -- Jim DeFede
It seems like a lifetime ago, not just sixteen years, that the world changed for us on September 11, 2001. I clearly remember exactly where I was when I heard that a plane had hit one of the buildings at the World Trade Center in New York City. A coworker’s wife called to tell him about it. We didn’t think much of it. Then she called back and said a second plane had hit. From that point, it was almost non-stop watching of every news source we could find.
We thought about all the people on the planes and in the buildings. We thought about all the fire and police personnel who marched into the maelstrom. We also think of those people at the Pentagon, and of those people who made frantic calls to loved ones from a plane over Pennsylvania. All our lives irrevocably changed on that Tuesday morning.
What about the people who were on planes heading to the United States who suddenly could not get to their destinations? Some aircraft turned around to return to the airport of origin. Others were rerouted to small airports in Canada. That’s the story we learn in The Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFede.
Gander, Newfoundland is a town almost in the middle of nowhere. The tiny town of 11,000 people were isolated from almost everyone. The Gander International Airport took a lion’s share of the airplanes still in the vicinity when airspace over the United States was closed. Operation Yellow Ribbon was a Canadian program to welcome travellers who would be stranded. The airport ultimately took 38 airplanes and 6,600 displaced travellers for most of a week.
The people of Gander welcomed strangers into their homes and lives. The town constable, with the unlikely and absolutely awesome name, Oz Fudge, had to deal with a sixty percent increase in the town’s population, while trying to deliver a promised hug to one of the newcomers. Throughout several days, new friendships were formed between perfect strangers.
I liked this book a lot. When it looked like we were at our lowest, the people of Gander, Newfoundland came together and showed us the greatest part of kindness and empathy. Jim DeFede follows a handful of those passengers and citizens as their lives were turned upside down. In the midst of all the turmoil, lasting friendships were born.
This book shows us what we are all capable of. We should spend more time living up to the ideals put forth by the people of Gander. The events of September 2001, are not so far removed that we shouldn’t forget how we all came together for a greater cause. The things that draw us together far outweigh the issues that pull us apart, and that’s the message I get from this book. Together we can do anything.
Craig Bacon reads a lot of books. Sometimes, he decides to review a few of those books. This is one of them.