by Jim Defede
If you want a good news story, a picture of hospitality in the midst of tragedy, love in the face of hate, and a reminder that some people do really care, read Jim DeFede's The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland.
The tragic events on 9/11 brought U.S. air traffic to a halt. U.S. transportation officials ordered 4,546 civilian aircraft -- everything from Cessnas to jumbo jets -- to "Land the plane!” Closing U.S. airspace also meant international flights, bound for the States, had to find alternative places to bring their passengers to safety. So on that day 38 jets landed in Gander Newfoundland, deporting 6,595 passengers in a town that barely had 10,000 people in it.
In The Day The World Came to Town. Jim Defede shines the spotlight on "the Newfiew way," recounting the extraordinary response of the citizens of Gander and its surrounding communities to people they had never seen and, were it not for that sad day, would never know:
For the better part of a week, nearly every man, woman, and child in Gander and the surrounding smaller towns—places with names like Gambo and Appleton and Lewisporte and Norris Arm—stopped what they were doing so they could help. They placed their lives on hold for a group of strangers and asked nothing in return.
DeFede turns a historical footnote into a moving narrative that will coax tears of gratitude for everyday kindness and what it means to say, "We're home." DeFede puts names and faces to "hospitality." He also provides a unique perspective of what it meant to be an airline pilot, flight attendant, air traffic controller, or family member of a New York City Firefighter on that horrific day.