Halifax International Airport Authority (HIAA) commemorated the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11 at 1 p.m.
Saturday marks two decades since the horrific hijacking attacks that shook the world, killing nearly 3,000 people in what was the deadliest terrorist assault on United States soil.
On Sept. 11, 2001, 40 airplanes were diverted to Halifax Stanfield International Airport, as officials scrambled to clear the skies in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon.
Halifax received more planes that day than any other airport in the world. In just a few hours, 8,000 passengers and crew members arrived at the city, where Nova Scotians sprung into action, helping in whatever way they could.
The commemoration event had representatives of HIAA, the Government of Nova Scotia, the U.S. Consulate General Halifax, Halifax Regional Municipality and Canadian Red Cross, providing remarks to highlight the significance of the anniversary.
“They say that crisis reveals a true character of a person and in those days twenty years ago, the character of our people made us very proud,” said Minister of Justice Brad Johns.
A volunteer for the Canadian Red Cross, Gale Sanford, who was also at the event, said she helped distribute food, personal supplies, and comfort to those in need on that dreadful day.
She met a man who had been stranded in Halifax for several days, he went to a church downtown and said they hadn’t sung any of his favorite hymns, which had left him distraught.
“I said, what was your favourite hymn? and he said, oh, love that will not let me go, and I said, that was my father’s favorite hymn and we sat there and we sang it together,” said Sanford.
Deputy Fire Chief Roy Hollett attended the event with his 11-year-old daughter.
He said he wanted his daughter “to see what Nova Scotia and Halifax Regional Municipality were able to do.”
Hollett said he still remembers the fear in the eyes of the passengers as they were getting off the planes- not even knowing where they were.
“I would not consider myself a touchy, feely person who hugs, and that day I think I hugged thousands of people,” he said.
The way that Nova Scotians opened their homes and hearts to those in need will always be something that Sanford and Hollett will remember.