One man's misfortune is another's opportunity for kindness. That's what Canadians taught me on Sept. 11, 2001.
Upon the 9/11 terrorist attack, air traffic over the United States was completely shut down, forcing thousands of planes to land immediately. Thirty-eight of those grounded flights landed unexpectedly at Gander, Newfoundland. Another 40 at Halifax, Nova Scotia. Altogether, some 15,000 stranded passengers appeared in Canada without warning.
At Gander, the 6,500 stranded visitors amounted to more than half of the city's 11,600 population. It was a time of confusion, grief, uncertainty. No one yet knew the full scope of horror that had struck New York and Washington.
And what did thousands of Canadians do? They opened their hearts and their homes! They welcomed, they fed, they clothed, and they housed strangers!
One of those strangers was the father of one of my eighth-grade students. With tear-filled eyes she told me, "They took my dad in. They handed him a phone. He called and told us he was safe!"
So, today I say "Thanks, neighbors! You Canadians provided the one bright light of that horrific day. You proved that one man's misfortune is another's opportunity for kindness!