Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Day before departure

Tour of Gratitude

So, after over a year of anticipation and thought and planning, tomorrow is the day we go to Gander, Newfoundland.  To give you a little background as to why we are going: to say "thank you".

On 9/11/2001, the United States shut down the airspace over our country.  The attacks in New York, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania, warranted this move to secure our country from further attack and to allow the government to protect us.

Canada was asked to handle the diversion of civilian airline flights to ensure that potentially destructive air traffic be removed from the airspace of the United States as quickly as possible and to keep them away from additional potential U.S. targets.  Being the incredible neighbors that they are, Canada said "yes" and so began "Operation Yellow Ribbon".  Gander, Newfoundland took in 38 of those flights, almost doubling the population of their small town. Gander once had the largest airport in the world and was used as a stop off/refueling point for military flights during WWII and for flights headed to Europe.  After jumbo jets took over air travel, this stop was no longer needed and travel through Gander was limited.

These generous and compassionate people opened their homes and their hearts to these stranded passengers when there was no place else in the world for them to go.  For the full story, read the book "When the World Came to Town" will not regret it!  Even though this was almost 15 years ago, how could this be ignored?

In my eyes, as the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches, I thought it was time we, once again, recognized their actions and that we owed our Canadian neighbors a "debt of gratitude". 

Therefore, this "Tour of Gratitude" was born and we are going to pay that debt...and we cannot wait!

There are a dozen of us headed north to this Canadian island.  We will be presenting programs to the schools, will be screeched in on Friday night, thanking the community at large on Saturday, and will be treated to a dinner that night.  On Sunday, we will have our own 9/11 Memorial Service, have been invited to Appleton to take part in their service and then head back to Gander where the nationally televised ecumenical service will be broadcast.  After that service, Rolling Thunder, the motorcycles from the Stephen Siller Foundation, will be presenting a piece of 9/11 steel to the town and we will celebrate the weekend with another dinner.  We depart on Monday morning at 5:00 AM.

As these events unfold, please stay tuned and I will share them with you.