Reviewed By: Erin Britton
An insightful book about a truly remarkable example of civic participation that is perhaps only little known outside of the United States, Oregon Loves New York: A Story of American Unity After 9/11 details the “Flight for Freedom” campaign instituted by a group of Oregonians in the weeks following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York. Sally Bourrie originally covered the Freedom Fliers’ campaign for the Chicago Tribune and The Boston Globe, and given the current divided state of the country, she has now written a book about it in the hope of highlighting how much can be achieved when Americans pull together in the face of adversity.
To provide context, in the first part of the book Bourrie presents a useful overview of Oregon’s history, geography, and population. She compares Oregon to New York, highlighting the differences and similarities between the two, with the aim being to show that “If Oregon can do it, anyone can!” The information about Oregon is clear and digestible, and it is accompanied by a selection of beautiful color photographs of the state. Moreover, the presented statistics allow for at-a-glance comparisons with New York. The first part is rounded off by an emotional account of the events of 9/11 and its aftermath written by Lisa Sokoloff, who was at home in Battery Park City when the planes struck and then had to escape the city.
After setting the scene, Bourrie turns to the Flight for Freedom itself, a unique campaign that saw a thousand disparate Oregonians take sixty-two flights heading to New York and then spend time in the city, talking with New Yorkers and doing their bit to rejuvenate the city’s economy. She introduces the individuals who were instrumental in organizing the campaign, including travel industry professionals, educators, and politicians. This part of the book is highly detailed and packed with perceptive first-person accounts that reveal the emotions and hopes that underpinned the campaign.
While the Flight for Freedom involved remarkable organizational effort, it was also participated in by a thousand individual citizens of Oregon, people from vastly different backgrounds who were living vastly different lives. They were united in their desire to help New York, and the outcome of their unity was a show of strength that bolstered a city in distress. Bourrie makes sure to also tell their stories, which prove to be both moving and inspiring. During their time in New York, the Oregonians drew significant interest, seemingly both bemusing and heartening the New Yorkers they encountered. Their collective tale really is a remarkable one.
The third part of the book comprises a detailed timeline of the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath as well as day-by-day accounts of how events unfolding nationally and internationally in the following weeks. Bourrie’s aim here is to provide a newsbyte-style overview of how things appeared to people at the time, and she succeeds well in doing so. The book then concludes with further information about Oregon and a selection of appendices covering various aspects of the Flight for Freedom campaign.
A truly emotive read, Oregon Loves New York is an important account of how individual people ensured that some good could be derived following an episode of monumental evil.
A truly emotive read,
Oregon Loves New York is an important account of how individual people ensured that some good could be derived following an episode of monumental evil.