October 2019 Monthly Letter

Immediately following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, U.S. airspace was closed. Thousands of travelers were diverted to Gander International Airport.

Dear ORM

As the
nation came together once again on September 11 to remember nearly 3,000 people
who lost their lives in 2001, I was very surprised at the realization that it
has been 18 years since it happened.

I thought
about where I was on that fateful day. I was in Dallas, Texas finishing up a
Reconciliation meeting with our chapter leaders. It was shocking that something
like this could happen in America. It took me three days to get back home to
Los Angeles.

As we look back, I want to share some of Neil Earle’s reactions. Neil is from Newfoundland, Canada. He describes one of the “redeeming features” of 9/11 in his report titled: The Saga of the Plane People:

Immediately following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, U.S. airspace was closed. Thousands of international travelers, mostly Americans, were forced to land in various airports in Canada.

Passengers from 38 flights were diverted to St. John’s, the capital of Newfoundland. Some of these people slept on Army cots in Diane Breen’s first grade classroom, or at the Lions’ Hall, while others slept on pallets inside St. John’s new Civic Centre.

At Gander International Airport and nearby Lewisporte, nearly 7,000 people were diverted and deplaned. In response to the overwhelming influx of humanity, locals donated cribs, diapers and Pokémon backpacks for young children, and aftershave lotion for men, according to The Wall Street Journal. People opened their homes to strangers on the street who were in need of a hot shower.

Every displaced person was provided for. Each passenger was delivered to the local airport right on time for his or her departing flight. When passengers boarded their planes to go home, it was like they had been on a cruise with their fellow travelers. Everybody knew everybody else. They were swapping stories about the way the local community had come together to care for them in the wake of the tragic attacks.

The story of the resourceful, caring people of St. John’s is a stark contrast to the hateful, destructive mindset of the 9/11 attackers. We have seen it proven once again: Good often comes out of the most nightmarish tragedies. Romans 12:21 describes what happened in St. John’s that week: “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.” All reconcilers know this scripture and understand why it is so important.

Thanks Neil.
As we remember the unexpected kindness poured out by Canadians to these
stranded visitors it is good to keep this lesson in mind: If evil can be
neutralized on 9/11 let us pray that as citizens of this country, and members
of the human race, we can come together again.

reconcilers, let us resolve to show love and compassion to each other, always
willing to offer that helping hand. May God bless us as we go about our
important work.