On September 11, 2001, when the planes were ordered to land, 38 of them wound up in Gander, Newfoundland. Almost 7,000 passengers arrived in this town with only about 10,000 residents.
No one really knew who was who and what was what in those first chaotic days. But when the planes rolled into Gander, the one thing the people of the town knew was that the folks on those planes needed to be cared for. People took stranded passengers into their schools, community centers, and homes. Folks were fed and clothed, provided with showers and medicine, reassured and comforted. Even the animals on the planes were cared for. For five days, Gander and the surrounding communities stopped everything to look after these people who had come from away.
Was it a huge, world-changing, life-threatening event? No. But for those passengers and flight attendants (and animals), it was an unexpected kindness in a world that nobody recognized anymore. It was proof that goodness and caring still existed. That they still mattered.
Now, the story of Gander and the people who landed there has been made into a musical. It’s playing in Toronto now and will be opening on Broadway soon. This celebration of generosity and kindness and caring will be shared and sung and spread. And that, my friends, makes me very happy.
Caring for strangers in need: Happiness, Day 3.