Why is it called "Oregon Loves New York"?
The book's title was inspired by the logo of the historic trip, the Flight for Freedom, pictured at left.
The subtitle, A Story of American Unity After 9/11, refers to the trip's goal and the intent of everyone who signed on: to show they cared about their fellow Americans.
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 all about people caring for one another, placing their humanity at the forefront.
Author Sally Ruth Bourrie was there. She covered the Flight for Freedom for The Boston Globe and the Chicago Tribune.
Oregon icon and Flight for Freedom co-organizer
Len Bergstein wrote the foreword for the 2023 edition.
What was the Flight for Freedom?
The historic journey by 1,000 Oregonians who flew to New York City only three weeks after the 9/11 attacks with the simple goal of showing the terrorists that Americans would not live in fear and to show their fellow Americans in New York that they cared.
No other community achieved anything on this scale. Many communities contacted the organizers about doing something similar to show their support for New York City, but no other community was able to pull off anything similar. (A group from Irvine, California, organized a trip to spend money in New York and gathered people from across the country later that year.)
When was it?
October 6-8, 2001
The trip was organized from September 20-26, 2001, and the first people left on October 4, 2001. It is a supreme example of people coming together selflessly for a cause bigger than themselves. All organizers were volunteers.
How much did it cost?
$379 for round-trip airfare from Oregon to New York, including two nights at the Waldorf-Astoria. Extra nights were $55 each.
Oregon Loves New York: A Story of American Unity after 9/11
The Best of America—Captured in Print for the First Time
Three weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when the world was afraid to get on an airplane much less a plane to New York City, 1,000 Oregonians led by Portland Mayor Vera Katz took 62 flights through twelve airports across the country to show the terrorists they had not shut down American life and to boost the tanking New York economy. What they found were fellow Americans who needed more than their money, they needed their hearts. The Flight for Freedom is a little-known story of Americans at their best, being there for their fellow Americans in a time of tragedy.
In observance of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Oregon Loves New York: A Story of American Unity After 9/11 captures their story. Based on more than 100 interviews, memoirs, and hundreds of news articles as well as personal experience, Oregon Loves New York documents previously untold 9/11 history, a moment when the United States came together. The book includes nearly 200 color photos from this historic trip.
While other cities and states aspired to emulate the project, no other community was able to bring together its citizens in a similar effort.
The Flight for Freedom was a completely volunteer-based trip. The airlines and hotels offered prices at less than cost. Packages started at $379 for airfare and two nights at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. (They were empty anyway.) Organizers, who were civic and business leaders from across Oregon, hoped to find 200 participants. Within days, they had to cap participation at 1,000 to have time to ticket.
The Freedom Fliers came from across the state – rural and urban, Republican and Democrat, all colors, races, religions. Nobody asked, nobody cared about people’s backgrounds, though organizers made an effort to ensure that the group included Muslims and people of color, and raised funds for scholarships as well.
While they were in New York, Oregonians marched in the Columbus Day Parade, rang the bell at the 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 dined in a Chinatown banquet for 700, along with other activities. 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, 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.
Author Sally Ruth Bourrie covered the event for the Chicago Tribune and The Boston Globe. See Sally’s writing portfolio at https://sallybourrie.com.
Here is what people have said about the Flight for Freedom:
The symbolic commitment to be a part of the recovery of New York from these horrible attacks meant a great deal to all New Yorkers and sent a very positive message to the entire nation. The Flight for Freedom demonstrated that people from 3,000 miles across the continent felt comfortable and safe in the streets, and that message got out in the rest of the country.
Former New York Governor George Pataki
Oregonians of a previous age, they walked 3,000 miles to go there, despite the hardships and some fear that our forebears had. Oregonians of our time showed courage to board airplanes at a time of severe restriction and insecurity and showed with their wallets and their shoe leather that hearts were one with New Yorkers.
This was a bright, shining moment for Oregon.
Former Oregon Senator Gordon H. Smith
With Oregonians’ Flight for Freedom, the people of my State are standing shoulder to shoulder with the citizens of New York in an effort to make clear that no terrorist can break the American spirit. I urge all Americans to follow their example.
Senator Ron Wyden speaking on the floor of the U.S. Senate, October 4, 2001
I came to this country sixty years ago as a refugee, an immigrant, with absolutely nothing, no hope, no future except what we’re going to make of it—and here I am leading the delegation down Fifth Avenue. And then, to see New Yorkers opening up their hearts to us. Not only did they give me something back, we were able to give them something back. It was just mind-blowing for all of us.
Portland Mayor Vera Katz on leading the Freedom Fliers in the 2001 New York Columbus Day Parade on the anniversary of arriving in New York City as a Holocaust refugee
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