Maybe I'm the last to hear about this. I wouldn't have known about it if mine hadn't been one of several dozen addresses on a mass e-mailing from a friend. I typically regard these skeptically, and a few minutes of research on Google.com or snopes.com typically proves me right. But even a broken clock is right twice a day, and this story is dramatically, wonderfully true. The full story is in the New York Times of November 18. More details are at Snopes.com. A summary follows:
Shortly after 9:30am on September 11, numerous westbound transatlantic flights were told that American airspace was closed, and to put down immediately wherever you can. For many of those flights, "wherever" was the town of Gander, a well-known (among those who need to know such things) refueling stop and one of the few airstrips in the area large enough to land a 747. But they normally get them one at a time: On 9/11, 37 planes landed there.
It took many hours just to deplane everybody: Thousands spent the night on the planes. This little town of 10,000 people found itself with over 6,500 unexpected guests, with no luggage (for security reasons, luggage wasn't released when the passengers were) and no projected departure time.
The good people of Gander, as well as nearby Lewisporte and the surrounding area as far as Twillingate, came through, with lodging, food, clothing, medical services -- whatever was needed.
No one could ask for better neighbors.