The Day the World Came to Town
The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede
The citizens of Gander met the stranded passengers with an overwhelming display of friendship and goodwill. As the passengers stepped from the airplanes, exhausted, hungry and distraught after being held on board for nearly 24 hours while security checked all of the baggage, they were greeted with a feast prepared by the townspeople. Local bus drivers who had been on strike came off the picket lines to transport the passengers to the various shelters set up in local schools and churches. Linens and toiletries were bought and donated. A middle school provided showers, as well as access to computers, email, and televisions, allowing the passengers to stay in touch with family and follow the news. Over the course of those four days, many of the passengers developed friendships with Gander residents that they expect to last a lifetime. As a show of thanks, scholarship funds for the children of Gander have been formed and donations have been made to provide new computers for the schools.
If you are one of those people who rolls your eyes upon hearing ultra-sunny bromides like "There are no such things as strangers, only friends you haven't met yet," then The Day the World Came to Town probably is not the book for you. For if there was ever a book that proved the veracity of such statements, it is certainly Jim DeFede's Christopher Award-winning account of the 6, refugees from the sky stranded in Gander, Newfoundland on 11 September The Day the World Came to Town is a heartfelt account of humanity at its finest during its darkest hours. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks at the World Trade Center, 38 jetliners en route to the United States were re-directed to Gander, a place once dubbed "the biggest gas station in the world. One can easily forgive DeFede's feel-good perspective, however, as ultimately, he reveals that there are still people who unselfishly offer help, comfort and hope to those in need simply because they can. DeFede starts the book by providing an account of Gander's history in order to contextualize the story to be told. Gander is a hard-working, fun-loving community composed of friendly and generous people who meet at the local Tim Horton's or bar for a drink and an exchange of local news and gossip.