People often assume that because I work in a library I must be an avid reader. I am really not. I read about 12 books a year. Instead of reading, I prefer to use my leisure time painting, traveling, and researching. I like gathering facts and keeping them in order; that is what really draws me to the library. But I do read!! Of course I read!

If you asked most people what their favorite books are, I speculate that the replies would be novels or favorite childhood storybooks. Me, I’m drawn more to biographies, memoirs, non-fiction, and historical fiction; books that contain some factual information.

My favorite book is The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede.

I picked the book up back in 2003 because of the last word in the title, Newfoundland. You don’t often hear much about the small island province of Canada but it was the birthplace of my great-grandfather, Abram Thomas Earle; so this title jumped out at me.

At the point at which I picked this book up in 2003, I had my fill of hearing about 9/11. It was a horrible day that I did not want to be reminded of again and again. I had enough of watching collapsing buildings, pointing fingers, seeking vengeance, hearing conspiracy theories, sending soldiers overseas, and most of all mourning. I was sick and tired of being sad. Actually, though, this book really lifted my spirits and gave me a different perspective on the world and that awful, awful day.

When we talk about 9/11/2001, we usually talk about New York, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa. However, the events that transpired that day effected the world. And sure, we saw that on the news; countries around the world mourning the victims of the terrorist attacks but I didn’t think much about it. I thought a lot about those traveler who lost their lives aboard those four flights that day, and rightly so. I didn’t give that much thought, though, to the other 4,546 civilian aircrafts over the U.S. that day or the nearly 400 others international flights en route to the U.S.; not until I read this book.

On September 11, 2001 over 250 flights were grounded at various airports throughout Canada. Thirty-eight of the flight landed in Gander, Newfoundland carrying 6,595 passenger and crew members. Gander, one of the larger cities in Newfoundland, has a population of about 10,000 residents. Ten thousand residents who opened their community centers, places of worship and homes to the 6,000 + wayward travelers.

This book tells the story of some of the passengers and residents and their experiences during those few days in September 2001 when nobody flew. It gave me an a perspective on the culture from which my great-grandfather came; one that gave me a little understand as to where his generosity, consistent support, and good-natured humor may have originated. But more than anything else, this book reaffirmed for me that the goodness of humankind still existed at a time when I had serious doubts.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Abram Thomas Earle and son, Allen Preston Earle, taken Thanksgiving 1917 – Freeport, NY

A photo of Gander Airport on September 11, 2001. (Thanks, Ben! -April)

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