Most sources of information are having some sort of commemoration of the ten-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. And, like many people, I have thought about where I was as I heard the news. I’d been at a Bible study, and had no idea that there had been an attack until I heard my sister’s voice on my answering machine, telling me to turn on my television.
Even after all this time, I do remember our conversation that day, and in the days right after the horrific events. As the wife of a private pilot, and as a woman who has taken enough flying lessons to have done solo flights, my sister’s perspective was a bit different, because what amazed her as much as anything was the swift shutdown of American air space. Because the FAA did not know the extent of the plot, they did the only logical thing, and that was an immediate halt on take-offs, and for those in the air, the instructions were to set down at the closest airport and stay there.
The United States of America has numerous airports, and some of the busiest air space on the planet, but that all came to a stop on 9/11 Therefore, the international flights bound for the U.S. had to land elsewhere. Some 200 flights, with roughly 30,000 passengers, landed in Canada. One town, with a population of 10,000 had 6,500 unexpected visitors land, and those visitors were not going to be leaving in just a few hours, either. There is a feature on the CBC website which follows some of the stories, and the new friendships, which resulted from the extended sojourn that many of those passengers had in Canada, a decade back.
The Osama bin Laden plot did succeed, for the most part, because the only plane which did not destroy its target was the one that crashed in Pennsylvania. The story doesn’t end there, fortunately. Based on the choice of targets, one goal for the terrorists was the shut down of the American economy, and it did not happen. Yes, the stock market closed for a few days, and business slowed for a bit, but our way of life did not change substantially. In fact, bad banking practices and real estate development gone wrong have done far more damage to the U.S. economy than the terrorist plots did.
Instead, for a time, Americans joined together, with patriotism trumping partisanship, and Americans were more appreciative than they had been. And, apparently many of them found some new friends across the northern border.