OTTAWA — U.S. President Barack Obama is thanking Canadians for standing by America during one of the “darkest moments in our history.”
In a letter written to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Obama said the terror attacks 10 years ago highlighted the ties between Canada and the United States as “great neighbours, trading partners and best of friends.
“Friendship gives us comfort and it gives us strength but can be tested in difficult times. In one of the darkest moments in our history, Canada stood by our side and showed itself to be a true friend,” Obama said.
In a one-page letter to Harper dated Sept. 8, 2011, the U.S. president noted how Canadians opened their homes to waylaid air travellers after hundreds of flights were diverted to Canada when the U.S. shut down its airspace.
And he noted in particular the contributions of Gander, Nfld., which played host to 6,600 passengers.
“For the next 3 days — before our airspace was reopened — these displaced passengers were treated like family in Canadian homes, receiving food, shelter, medical attention and comfort,” Obama wrote.
“Ten years later, we continue to be grateful for Canada’s friendship, and for the solidarity you continue to show us in our shared fight against terrorism,” Obama said.
“On this anniversary, we recognize all the gestures of friendship and solidarity shown to us by Canada and its people, and give thanks for our continuing special relationship,” Obama said in his letter.
In a separate announcement, Harper said that Sept. 11 would be named a National Day of Service to mark the “incredible acts of courage, sacrifice and kindness by Canadians on and following that infamous day.”
“I hope that this National Day of Service, observed hereafter on September 11, will inspire Canadians to once more show the same kind of compassion to strangers in need, by engaging on that day in charitable activities, fundraisers and community service for worthy causes across the country,” Harper said in a statement.
He said he hoped the tribute would “turn an infamous date into a day of hope marked by a communal outpouring of warmth and generosity.
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