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A Canadian town’s hospitality

Revisiting the remarkable 9/11 story of Gander, Newfoundland

A Canadian town’s hospitality

A scene from ‘Come from Away’

A New York moment:

This Broadway show has been out for a year, but last week someone gifted me a ticket to Come from Away. It’s based on the true 9/11 story from Gander, Newfoundland. Am I the last person to hear this story? The NBC special on it is a tear-jerker, and captures the essential narrative of Come from Away. If anyone knows any particularly good articles or accounts about Gander, please email me.

Gander is the tiny town that took in 38 diverted commercial planes carrying more than 7,000 people when U.S. and Canadian authorities closed North American airspace on Sept. 11, 2001. The town had once been a refueling stopover for transatlantic flights, so it had capacity for these big jets.

The story of the hospitable Canadians caring for thousands of terrified passengers in the wake of 9/11 will win anyone over, and it surprisingly works just right in a musical format. Audience members around me were weeping as one mom on the plane awaited news of her New York firefighter son (another true story). We forget that this was before smartphones existed.

The 100-minute show captures the feeling of 9/11—that the world had turned upside down, that nothing would ever be the same. The song near the end, “Something’s Missing,” boils that down. But the audience didn’t leave sorrowful: At the curtain call people were on their feet clapping to the Celtic band that camps out on stage throughout the show (Newfoundland has strains of Irish culture). Hug a Canadian!

Worth your time:  

This made the rounds on social media, but it’s a story worth reading if you haven’t yet. After a Honduran family turned itself in after illegally crossing the border, seeking asylum, U.S. immigration officials separated the father from his wife and 3-year-old. The man subsequently committed suicide. The administration’s new policy refers all border stops for criminal prosecution, separating children from their parents in the process. It’s a troubling tactic to deter illegal immigration that even Trump supporters like Franklin Graham are condemning.

This week I learned:

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is pushing to remove an achievement test that determines admission into the city’s top high schools, saying the test is a “roadblock to justice.” Asian-American groups, representing a large chunk of students who make it into these elite schools, object.

In other New York education news, de Blasio’s nemesis Eva Moskowitz is celebrating the first graduating class of Success Academy. Success’ 36 charter schools in the city have “disrupted” the local education system, and its students score much higher than public school students on state tests. Ninety-five percent of all Success students passed state math exams last year, while only 38 percent of city third- through eighth-graders did.

Culture I am consuming:

Liz Vice’s new album, Save Me. If her first album, 2014’s There’s a Light, were a vinyl record, I would have worn it out. Vice is a worship leader based in New York, and a great songwriter.

Metro Minute will be on hiatus for the next two weeks. Email me with tips, story ideas, and feedback at ebelz@wng.org.