Following are just a few of the letters that appeared in The Pilot, reprinted from air passengers who called Lewisporte home for a short while when the events of September 11, 2001 unfolded. Also included are letters from Americans who didn’t actually spend time in Lewisporte, but felt the need to express appreciation to the community for the outpouring of support and kindness shown to their countrymen:
What a wonderful community
My husband and I were two of the thousands of stranded travelers enjoying the caring hospitality of the Lewisporte community.
Words cannot express the gratitude we felt as all of our immediate needs were seen to. The extra care given my husband, who is handicapped, was especially appreciated.
A special thank you to Stan (Godwin) and all those at the Calypso Centre and the Kinsmen Centre where we were housed, fed and graciously cared for.
What a wonderful community you all live in. The world could take lessons from you all.
Bob and Evelyn Richards
Tucson, Arizona USA
There are no strangers here
I literally dropped in on you out of the blue a couple of weeks ago when Delta Airlines flight 129 was diverted to Gander on Sept. 11th.
Initially, I was bused to the Kinsmen hall where smiling faces greeted us with wonderful hot soup, sandwiches, toiletries, and anything else we could possibly request. As the hall became more crowded, some of us went to St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Premier Drive where we were privileged to stay until the following Saturday morning.
To my dying day, I shall keep the folks of Lewisporte and St. Paul’s in particular, in my prayers because I can never forget the sincere, warm, and gentle kindness which was showered on us during our stay.
The people of Lewisporte were always “there” and ready to do any little thing to make us feel at home and comfortable. People just seemed to drop all their daily obligations to care for us and no request was ignored.
A million thanks for your living demonstration of an old Irish saying, “There are no strangers here, only friends we’ve yet to meet.” God bless you all.
Kindness is unforgettable
As a former Kinsmen Community Centre resident, I want to thank all the people of Lewisporte for your help and compassion for the refugees of flight number 129. We have nothing but praise and love for all of you. This sad time will eventually pass but I will never forget your kindness.
Lewisporte considered family forever
Hey to all of you in God’s country! There hasn’t been a minute since we left your arms that you haven’t been on our hearts and minds. Your spirit and generosity has overwhelmed us all. The smiles on your faces and the joy in your hearts shall surely be a guide to us all through our lives. You will always be a part of my family, and family needs to stay in touch. Don’t forget us as we will never forget you or Lewisporte.
Please keep a light on and we will do the same just in case some of us are able to find our way to each other again. (But it will have to be by car here because I don’t think Ronnie’s going to let the airlines get a hold of him any time soon!) Mr. Man enjoyed his birthday at home with his baby girls and our little Dylan. My mom was on board from Florida and helped prepare a big meal for dinner. And as we ate we passed stories of you and Lewisporte on to them and laughed and giggled on all the fun we had and the people we met that went out of their way to make us at home.
Love, Hugs and Kisses to all.
Ronnie and Kasey Stephenson
Delta flight 129
Memories of helping hands
It has come to my attention that your community is playing a vital but little known role in helping my fellow countrymen in our time of distress.
Through a mutual friend, I was told of an elderly couple who were on a flight diverted to your region due to the unspeakable events that have transpired in the United States this week.
Their reports of the incredible hospitality and humanitarian concern shown by the residents of Lewisporte are enough to warm our nearly shattered hearts.
In the years to come, when I think back to this terrible time I will also be reminded of the helping hand extended by your community.
R. Gene Perkins
Lenior City, Tennessee
Our thanks to Lewisporte
Having arrived safely at home on Saturday, we have now had time to reflect on the events of last week.
We want to let the people of Lewisporte and all of Newfoundland, know how grateful we are for the kindness, food, shelter, and transportation that we received during our stay. There are no words to express our appreciation.
We are letting everyone know of the outstanding efforts that were made on such short notice, and we know of no place on earth where this service could be duplicated. You have renewed out faith in humanity.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. God Bless Canada!
Don and Betty Cullen
St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Delta Flight 129
Couldn’t have asked for better
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the people of Lewisporte, and especially the members of the Kinsmen Club of Notre Dame for their wonderful kindness during our unscheduled stay in your town.
The kindness and love that we received was overwhelming, and we hope you can pass this message along to all concerned. In particular we would like to thank Jessica and Jonathan Oake, from Main Street who befriended the twins Owen and Matthew Ennis, and took them to their home and made them feel so welcome.
We would also like to thank Trevor (Tetford) for his kindness.
Also, a special thanks to Marion, the wonderful lady who brought me to her home, so I could contact my family, when all the phones in the community centre were busy.
We leave tomorrow for our home in Ireland after a wonderful holiday in Arizona, and have no regrets about being diverted to your town during these tragic times. We couldn’t have asked for better. We will remember you all in our prayers. God bless you all.
Our best neighbour, our best friend
We extend a heartfelt thank you to all the warm and hospitable people of Gander and Lewisporte, Newfoundland for the way they welcomed hundreds of frightened strangers whose planes were forced to land in Gander on September 11th.
It truly is amazing that the entire communities of two small towns in Newfoundland found it in their hearts to make welcome to the unfortunate travelers on that day will live in infamy.
Where else in the world could 53 planes carrying 10,500 passengers have landed unexpectedly in a small town of only 10,400 residents and those residents provided accommodations for so many “guests” when they had no advance notice to prepare for them?
Where else in the world would a community have made available every school and other public building as a way of extending a helping hand to strangers in need? Where else in the world would families have provided home-cooked meals for all these strangers — and then entertained them as well?
Where else in the world would families have made their private homes available to the elderly passengers? Where else but in Canada — our best neighbour and our best friend! Vive la Canada! God bless all of you.
I wasn’t one of the hapless passengers — I’ve only read about the citizens of Gander and Lewisporte in an email forwarded to me — but it brought tears to my eyes, and heartfelt gratitude to all of you.
How fortunate we are to have you as our best neighbour and our best friend.