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Operation Yellow Ribbon: Remembering the Kindness of Gander, Newfoundland on 9/11

In the wake of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the world stood in shock and disbelief. But even in the darkest of times, the human spirit can shine its brightest. One of the most heartwarming stories to emerge from that dark day was Operation Yellow Ribbon, Canada's incredible response to support Americans who were stranded when flights were diverted to Canadian airports.

Operation Yellow Ribbon Takes Flight

As the airspace over the United States was closed and flights were redirected, 38 planes carrying over 6,600 passengers were rerouted to a small airport in Gander, Newfoundland. Suddenly, this tiny town found itself hosting an influx of unexpected guests.

The response from the residents of Gander was nothing short of remarkable. They opened their hearts and homes to the stranded passengers. From schools and community centers to churches and private residences, Gander residents offered shelter, food and support for almost 7,000 travelers.


What makes this story extraordinary is that Gander's population almost doubled overnight. Yet, rather than feeling overwhelmed, the people of Gander welcomed their unexpected guests with open arms and open hearts. They became instant friends and confidants, offering not only a place to stay but also a shoulder to lean on during this difficult time.

The Striking School Bus Drivers' Noble Decision

Gander, a quiet Canadian town, had its own share of problems in the days leading up to September 11, 2001. School bus drivers in Gander were on strike, protesting for better working conditions and wages. Tensions were high and the community was divided.

However, in the face of an unprecedented crisis, something extraordinary happened. When the news of the 9/11 attacks reached Gander, the striking school bus drivers made an incredible decision. They put their grievances aside and selflessly offered to drive the buses that would transport stranded airline passengers.

A Community United

Operation Yellow Ribbon was a testament to the power of human kindness and compassion, transcending borders, nationality and religion. People from all walks of life came together in Gander, forging lasting bonds with strangers who had suddenly become part of their lives.

The passengers, many of whom were terrified and exhausted, were greeted with warm smiles and gestures of kindness. Gander's residents not only provided food and shelter but also organized entertainment, therapy sessions and social gatherings to ease the anxiety and fear that hung in the air.

The Impact and Legacy

As the days passed and the planes were eventually cleared to continue their journeys, the passengers left Gander with hearts full of gratitude and tears in their eyes. The people of Gander not only provided for their physical needs but had also given them a renewed faith in humanity.

In the years that followed, the story of Gander's kindness became widely known and celebrated. It inspired books, documentaries and even a Broadway musical, "Come From Away," which shared this heartwarming, real-life story with audiences around the world.

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