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Tuesday morning, 9-11-01, Diane Baker, Sally Christiansen, Marv and Leona Wagner, (all of the Kansas City, MO area) Genie and I were high up in the Big Horn Mountains above Sheridan, Wyoming, staying at Arrowhead Lodge in very rustic log cabins.

Delta flight 15 was high above the north Atlantic on its way from Frankfort, Germany, to Atlanta, GA. The captain was told the flight was diverted to Gander, Newfoundland due to a minor instrument problem. The captain relayed the message to the passengers.

The plane landed and found itself among 52 other diverted aircraft from around the world (27 were U.S. commercial jets). The captain, after landing safely, admitted it was more than an instrument problem as he told everyone what had happened: Four jetliners had been hijacked, two brought down the World Trade Center towers, one slammed into the Pentagon and one was missing over Pennsylvania.

Gander, a town of 10,400 inhabitants, suddenly had 10,500 unexpected visitors at the airport. The townspeople rose to the occasion with other surrounding towns. The high schools, meeting halls, lodges, and any other shelters were open only for housing the stranded travelers. Locals offered their cots, sleeping bags and mats. The restaurants worked together to feed the unexpected guests.

For two days (until they could fly out) the locals entertained the “plane people” as the guests were called. As Delta flight 15 left Gander and headed to Atlanta, the passengers were more like friends than a plane full of strangers. One passenger suggested they establish a trust fund under the name “Delta 15.” A paper was passed around the cabin. The passengers wrote their names, addresses, phone numbers and how much money they would donate. They pledged a little over $14,000.

Other corporations joined by matching the passengers’ pledges plus amounts from other corporations’ matching. Today, the trust is worth more than $1.5 million. It has been used to assist 134 students in Newfoundland to pursue a college education.

This is only one example of how something beautiful and good can come from an otherwise tragic event. Readers, this is a true story (all fact). Where were you on September 11, 2001? Do you have a “silver lining” story to tell of that day?

P.S. In my opinion, the American people are just like the family that is constantly fighting amongst themselves. Leave them alone and they will keep fighting. Do harm to one of them, and they will unite—just like America did after 9-11.

Terrorists, take notice of the above!


Bob is a retired AAL (Aid Association for Lutherans) agent, currently working on his master’s degree in Volunteering. His wife, Genie, is a retired RN, currently working on her doctor’s degree in Volunteering. They have two children, Deb in North Carolina, and Dan in Vermont. Bob says if you enjoy his column, let him know. If you don’t enjoy it, keep on reading, it can get worse. Words of wisdom: There is always room for God.

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