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Book event: Oregon Loves New York: A Story of American Unity After 9/11

September 12 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm


Author Sally Bourrie and several members of the New York trip will discuss “Oregon Loves New York: A Story of American Unity After 9/11.”

A nation in mourning. A city recovering. A unique moment in history when people came together to rebuild hope.

“Oregon Loves New York: A Story of American Unity After 9/11” documents an important event in American history that is little known: the Flight for Freedom, an achievement by Oregonians unequaled by any other community in the United States.

“Something powerful happened in New York. We had a rare opportunity to experience the healing power of human-to-human contact and to honor our highest nature.”
— Jan Woodruff, Portland State University Director of Marketing and Freedom Flier

What was the Flight for Freedom? The journey by 1,000 Oregonians who flew to New York City only three weeks after the 9/11 attacks with the goals of showing the terrorists that Americans would not live in fear, to support the ailing New York City economy, and to show their fellow Americans in New York that they cared. While other communities hoped to emulate Oregon in a similar effort, none ever did.

The Flight for Freedom took place October 6–9, 2001. Because of the large numbers of participants and some people’s desire to stay longer, Freedom Fliers’ time in New York varied.

The trip was organized September 20–26, 2001, and the first people left on October 4, 2001.

The trip cost $379 for round-trip airfare from Oregon to New York and included two nights at the Waldorf-Astoria.

Freedom Fliers flew to New York on 62 flights and 12 airports, providing employment for people who would not have had work on those days. While in New York, Oregonians marched in the Columbus Day Parade, rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, held a memorial service at Union Square, appeared on Good Morning America and other TV and radio shows, spoke at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine’s Blessing of the Animals, and held a banquet for 700 in hard-hit Chinatown.

Easy to spot in T-shirts and buttons with two Douglas firs and “Oregon ♥ New York,” Freedom Fliers were routinely stopped, hugged, and thanked by raw, grieving, shell-shocked New Yorkers. The Oregonians embraced the New Yorkers at every level; they listened to their 9/11 stories and were present in more ways than they could have anticipated when they answered the call.

Japanese American Loen Dozono birthed the idea, which her husband, Sho Dozono, owner of Azumano Travel and chairman of the Portland Chamber of Commerce, ran with. He organized a diverse group of statewide leaders to organize the event and to participate. All organizers were volunteers. Nobody made any money from the trip, including the airlines and hotel.

Portland Mayor Vera Katz led the group in New York. Dignitaries from across the state participated, but overwhelmingly, the effort comprised “average” people, from bartenders and cab drivers to teachers and small-business owners.

The Flight for Freedom was not a tour. All that participants shared was that they wanted to help and they were courageous enough to get on planes and go to New York City when many people around the world were afraid to do both of those things. They did not know one another, it was not a club, and when the trip was over, very few stayed in touch. The Flight for Freedom is an example of what can be achieved when Americans come together. Nobody cared about anyone’s politics, race, religion—it was about people caring for one another, placing their humanity at the forefront.

Sally Ruth Bourrie covered the Flight for Freedom for “The Boston Globe” and the “Chicago Tribune.” She has been a writer for more than thirty years.


Roundabout Books
(541) 306-6564
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Roundabout Books
900 Northwest Mount Washington Drive #110
Bend, OR 97703 United States
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