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Hands Across the Border

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Canadians share American grief

 “The events of September 11 have touched us all,” wrote British Columbia’s Premiere Gordon Campbell. “We must stand up for liberty, diversity, tolerance and respect.”  Campbell was indeed personally touched, as Jim Abbott, a BC representative to Parliament, shared. “His son was in New York on the 11th,” he said. “He had a ticket to tour the World Trade Center. He slept in.”

    Abbott was reading to a crowd of people in Bonners Ferry’s Fry Auditorium last week as part of “Hands Across the Border,” an event originated by Creston B.C. Mayor Don Leben, who declared Sept. 11 to Sept. 16 a period of mourning for his town near our northern border, and who brought with him to Bonners Ferry a “Book of Condolences,” from the people of his city. He also brought over $2000, money raised by the citizens of Creston to help victims of the early September terrorist attacks in three U.S. states. “We are all deeply affected by this act of terrorism,” he said, and went on to vow that he “stand(s) firmly behind the Canadian and U.S. leaders.”

    The crowd on the podium nearly rivaled the crowd in the auditorium, and included a host of both Canadian and Idahoan notables. Gary Exner, Mayor of Nelson, B.C., was also in attendance and presented his own book of condolences, and a check for $2600. In addition to the delegation arriving from Canada, which included the resplendent officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, there were representatives from the Bonners Ferry City Council; Boundary and Bonner County Commissioners; Bonners Ferry Mayor Darrell Kerby; Tribal representatives; the U.S. Army; Idaho National Guard; American Legion; Veterans of Foreign Wars; American Disabled Vets; American Red Cross; U.S. Border Patrol; Boundary and Bonner County Sheriff’s offices; Bonners Ferry’s Chief of Police; Hospital Administrator Craig Johnson; the Head of Patrol and Head of Investigations for North Idaho’s police; and Lt. Governor Jack Riggs. Letters were read, in addition, from the aforementioned Campbell as well as Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne and Senator Larry Craig.

    “I don’t think any of us have seen such a tragedy, nor such an outpouring of generosity,” said Pat Mosely, Executive Director for the Inland Northwest Chapter of the American Red Cross. She said her chapter, which includes Boundary and Bonner counties along with eight Washington counties, has collected $1 million dollars so far for relief efforts.

    “We should focus on what we saw thereafter,” said Lt. Governor Riggs. “Acts of heroism, acts of patriotism… acts of love and compassion. I don’t have any question that our humanity is much stronger than the evil we saw. I believe in this… we will prevail.”

    As Mayor Leben said, to a standing ovation, “(These events) reminded us the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. I salute those brave people who chose to fight the terrorists… God bless Canada, and God bless the United States of America.”

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Landon Otis

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