Come from Away, Gander, dead grandparents, a wall of text and the meaning of life

Long crazy couple of weeks. Months. It’s probably been a couple of months now, I don’t even know. Went to see a play at Ford’s Theater called Come From Away about 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland. Why the fuck would someone go through the effort to write a play about September 11th in a random Canadian town and not New York or D.C.? I will explain. Basically Gander was settled during WWII due to it’s suitability for Air Force bases. Newfoundland is roughly halfway between Boston and Dublin, and thus a perfect refueling spot for old planes that couldn’t yet cross the Atlantic. The airport remained a functional international airport after the war (and is still operational today.) When the attacks happened on 9/11, the U.S. airspace was closed with planes destined for the States still in the air. 38 of them were forced to emergency land in Gander, where many planes were being diverted because, here’s where everything comes full circle-, those giant runways designed for WWII-era military planes that required a long stretch of runway to land and take-off could serve as an XXL plane parking lot for the many jets circling in the air with nowhere to go. Gander is small and lacked the resources to care for so many people in an emergency situation so huge in scope that when the passengers were unloaded, the¬†town’s population was doubled overnight. (Realistically, Gander is actually large by Newfoundland standards, which was one of my few criticisms of the play, though I can see how portraying a place as shockingly uninhabited is more interesting than portraying it as an economic hub in province that is just small overall.) But the people of Gander pulled together in a huge way, converting school gym’s and Salvation Army, and the Knights of Columbus into sleeping quarters, bringing their own bed linens, cooking trays and pots of food, bringing clothes and toiletries, inviting the passengers to their homes, for dinner or for a shower or to stay until the situation was resolved. Showing them around town, trying to keep them entertained, just beyond hospitality, empathy. The crux of the situation was as horrible as the events were, the passengers were lucky to have landed in Gander, where the community felt a real responsibility to welcome them with open arms, and care for them as best as they were capable.

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