9/11/01 is a day that will live in our memories for the rest of our lives. It’s hard to believe that it is the 20th anniversary today. I can still remember exactly where I was when the planes first hit the towers. I was in the 9th grade honors English – we had no idea what was happening. When I entered the hallway to go to my next class, I remember there was a sense of excitement and confusion in the air. I saw one of my friends in the hallway and when she told me I honestly didn’t fully grasp what was happening. My next class was study hall and they brought in televisions so we could see what was happening. I remember watching the towers fall and watching all the people scatter. It was so surreal. I also had a friend in a study hall with me that had a sister who worked in a building next to the towers. Thankfully, she had not been at work yet and was ok but it was scary waiting to hear the news. It is a day that is forever etched in my mind.
It is also a day forever etched in the mind of Kevin Tuerff. He was one of the passengers stranded in Gander on 9/11 when all planes were diverted and the airspace was closed. He writes about his experiences in his book Channel of Peace: Stranded in Gander on 9/11. You learn from his perspective how it felt to be aboard an airplane not knowing what was going on and being in a strange place. It is a very scary time but also a very rewarding time as it forever changes his perspective. While in Gander, around he sees the very best of humanity coming together in a time of strife. Strangers helping and embracing strangers. Love and kindness were abundant as people work together to help those stranded while also helping them try to grasp exactly what happened in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC.
In Channel of Peace, Kevin Tuerff goes through several emotions as he stranded with is then partner Evan and a while mess of strangers. He does make friends with several people during his time there and has continued these friendships today. He has also started the Pay It Forward 9/11 effort where he encourages people to do good deeds for strangers.. He was inspired by the people in Gander and wanted to find a way to give back in the way had been given to. For the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the Pay It Forward 9/11 effort is trying to exceed a goal of 20,000 good deed pledged by people all around the world. At this time, it looks like they are going to exceed their goal and continue the legacy of the Newfoundlanders.
Another way the legacy of the Newfoundlanders is kept going is through the Broadway musical Come From Away. On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the passengers who were stranded in Gander returned and celebrated with the townspeople. While there the “come from aways” and the townspeople met with writers David Hein and Irene Sankoff who were developing a musical based on the events in Gander. These stories were combined to create what is now known as Come From Away. If you pay attention and follow me on Twitter, you know that I have seen the show eight times in NYC. It is one of my favorites. I love the message regarding the grace, strength, and beauty humanity. Kevin Tuerff references the musical in Channel of Peace and explains some of the differences between the stage and reality. He is proud to have been included in the musical which was just released as a pro-shot on AppleTV.
Channel of Peace is a part of the unforgettable saga that is 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland. The events of that day challenged beliefs and renewed a faith in the human spirit. It is a beautiful story. I’m glad that the legacy is also continued in the Pay It Forward 9/11 effort. I know I will be participating this year and I hope you will too.
Rating: 5 Stars