Monday, September 12, 2011

Operation Yellow Ribbon

I was pulling into my parking space underneath my office building when I heard the news flash on the radio that a plane had hit one of the World Trade towers. A while later, I heard about the 2nd crash. It didn’t really register in my brain what was going on. Busy with deadlines and meetings for the rest of the day, I got caught up in my own world. It wasn’t until I got home and sat in front of the television with My Husband that I saw what had happened. When I saw the towers collapse, I burst into tears. Such a terrible, terrible tragedy. One that has changed forever how I view the world.

For the safety of other U.S. citizens, shortly after the 2nd plane hit, air space was shut down in North America. Canada did not hesitate to accept air traffic bound for U.S. destinations. These flights were rerouted to mostly military airports in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, British Columbia, Quebec and Manitoba. This was done to remove potentially destructive airplanes to locations where they could be contained in a controlled setting and deactivated if necessary. One of the airports that accepted international flights bound for the U.S. was Gander, Newfoundland.

Gander International Airport played a big part in Operation Yellow Ribbon. It’s a small airport, and I believe is usually used as a refueling stop for international flights. However, on September 11, 2001 the residents of Gander accepted close to 40 transatlantic flights, more than any other Canadian airport, originally meant to land at different locations in the U.S. Over 6,500 people had to stay in Gander for days, waiting for airspace to be reopened.

The residents of Gander jumped into action and food was prepared, buildings and homes were made ready to accept guests and even entertainment was organized to help weary travelers from dozens of countries pass the time. They not only opened their homes but their hearts.  Lufthansa has an airbus named Gander/Halifax as a thank you to both cities.  :-)

At a time when our southern and international neighbours needed us, Canada did not hesitate to step up.  This is a sad anniversary and my thoughts are with the families that lost someone precious to them on that day.  This anniversary also reminds me of how very proud I am to be Canadian.  


  1. I don't know what we would do without our great neighbors to the north. Thank you Canada for being there, especially on that horrible day. And thank you Wolfie for putting this up. I think a lot of us here in N.Y. didn't even realize this happened and what a help you were on that day and the days afterwards. We were so focused on the people and the towers and the rest of the news that it probably slipped under the radar what a huge help Canada was to us. Thank you again.

  2. Gander's population nearly doubled with the amount of passengers who had to stay with them. Last night I watched Diverted, which is about Gander taking in al the passengers. While the movie tells the fictionalized story of people stranded there, it does a very good job of protraying how the people of Gander organized and welcomed the people into their homes. Like you, remembering what the people of Gander and other communities did makes me very proud to be Canadian.

  3. GHM - I appreciate your comments. It was a horrible event that stunned the world. I am truly thankful that we are good neighbours to each other.

    Cjay - I have family in Newfoundland and this event in Gander is a good representation of how everyone in Newfoundland really is. :-)

  4. Our family took a long-planned vacation to the coast the weekend after Sept. 11 and I will never forget seeing all the flags and signs of solidarity we saw on the drive. It's sad that sometimes it takes a tragedy to really bring out the good things in people--like opening your home to a stranger. I hadn't heard the story about Gander before--glad you posted.

  5. Wow, I had no idea about this. You Canadians are good people, my hat is off to you.

  6. Fetlock - It does seem that it takes a tragedy to make us come to our senses and remember what is important.

    Shannon - Glad I was able to share this with you and thank you! :-)

  7. Wow, very nice. But, as you said, we constantly need to be reminded of what CAN happen. And if it CAN, then it has not yet done so. Which leads to negligence. :( Cheers!

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  8. This is a wonderful post. Thank you! Amazing generosity of the Canadian people on that day; they were at risk, too.

    If you'd like to read a post I wrote about my experiences that day, here is a link to one that I wrote in 2007:

  9. Jimmy - Thanks for stopping by!

    Detroit Dog - I read your post. We will never forget what we were doing on that day, will we?

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