Suzy Snapper
Saturday, September 09, 2006
In Retrospect
Monday, of course, marks a very solemn day. A day that changed the thinking and direction of many over the entire world. Everyone has various memories and remembrances of September 11, but I'd like to remember how it unfolded in retrospect to my town.

I live in Richmond, where the Vancouver International Airport is located. That day, once it became clear that airspace had closed, inbound planes were diverted to our local airport. Canadian officials agreed to let planes land in Canada - in Gander Newfoundland on the East Coast and Vancouver on the West. While much has been written about the hospitality of the Gander, our own local hospitality has been something more of a quiet admiration.

For me, I remember driving home that day past the airport and noticing more planes on the tarmac than I thought were possible. Imagine the largest airshow all full of 747's and 767's. All those people, diverted to our country and stranded here for a few days put a toll on our local services, but that was met with a smile and an attitude of being in this together. People opened their homes, and their hearts and businesses donated food and supplies to anyone in need. I remember every radio channel turning into a dispatch center with notes of 'Salvation Army Church needs more bread and buns'. It was as if the community, in a time of complete unknown and uncertainty, just pulled up it's sleeves and said 'Let's go.'

This weekend's paper has a few memories and I'd like to share them here. The following is a highlighted version of events as printed in the Richmond News this weekend.

It was five years ago Monday that the most devastating terrorist attack in
America took down the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The event happened on the other side of the continent, but the reverberations were felt around the world and particularly here in Richmond. With 34 plans bound for the United States suddenly diverted to YVR, Richmond was not just an observer but a player in the crash that shook the world.

With the planes grounded, Richmond suddenly had thousands of stranded passengers to accommodate.

A phone bank was also set up and Richmond residents were asked to call
in if they could put up passengers. The response was overwhelming. So many
people wanted to help, but in the end it seemed the hotels were able to
accommodate the passengers.

Owners of the local grocery store dropped off truckoads of groceries to the Baptist Church to help out. But ironically, the efficiency of the city, the airlines and the airport meant there was little the residents could do.

"There was real frustration in that", said the fire chief. "People wanted to do more".

Bruce McK, a retiree, feeling a sense of helplesness took his bagpipes to the dyke across from the airport. With the tails of hundreds of parked airplanes in the distance, he played lament after lament as about a hundred people gathered and cried in a spontaneous wake.

Stacey B was at her father-in-law's house preparing for his birthday
when the call came from the church. They owned a bakery and the church was
inquiring if there were any supplies to be had. They felt they wanted to do more
and opened their home so she went to the church looking for someone requiring

Mrs B was hooked up with a bright, charmingly goofy 15 year old
boy from Boston. "I have kids and I just thought how I hope someone would take
my child in if he were stranded at an airport".

During the boy's 4 day stay with the family, the boy's mother was able to phone a number of times to keep in contact with her son.

"I would do it over in a minute", she says "My only regret was that at the time we didn't have a lot of extra room so we couldn't take in more".

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer trapped in a corporate buyer's body. Steel shopping by day, and freeflowing prose by night. One day I hope to have the nights become my days, but am intimidated by the sheer amount of people who share my dream. So I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.
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