HOUSTON - We’re just hours from the 20th anniversary of the September 11th tragedies and many of us have been recalling exactly where we were when we realized America was under attack.
The same is true for a Houston couple who was on an international flight as terrorists began using airplanes as weapons against the U.S.
20 years later it’s still hard to even think about what happened that day. It was so difficult for Nick and Diane Marson, for a long time they didn’t want to talk about how on 9/11 when their plane had to land in Canada because American air space had closed. That's where they found safety, kind hearts among many broken ones and each other.
"Four hours into the flight the captain came over the intercom and said there’s [sic] problems with the American airspace and we were diverted to New Foundland, Canada," Mr, Marson explained. "I noticed the flight attendant was extremely nervous and almost visibly shaking and I thought she’s really not cut out for this job. Little did I realize she was probably walking around the plane looking for other people that might have been terrorists."
At that point all anyone knew was terrorists had taken over at least four airplanes, smashing them into the twin towers, the Pentagon, and a Pennsylvania field.
"Watching the looping news it was like a horror movie, the planes going into the twin towers. It was too much to watch," says Mr. Marson and his wife adds, "It was really upsetting to think our country had been attacked like that."
As a result, Nearly 40 planes were diverted to New Foundland where warm hearts tried hard to comfort broken ones.
"They just opened their pantries, their refrigerators, and made food for almost 7,000 people," says Mrs. Marson.
"Basically the New Foundlanders displayed the very best of mankind," adds Mr. Marson.
So the community held gatherings and in a few of the photos, Diane and Nick were caught kissing codfish as everyone tried, even if briefly, to escape reality. When locals took stranded airplane passengers on a tour, it was there where the British guy became googly-eyed for the American woman.
"Diane and I met getting in line for a blanket, an army blanket…she said it smelled like mothballs," Mr. Marson said. "I wanted a picture of this lady because these days that we’d spent in this little part of heaven taken care of by angels I wanted to remember it. I wanted to remember Diane."
"I saw him taking a picture," Mrs. Marson said. "I offered to move because I thought he wanted a picture of this beautiful scenery because you could see for miles," Mrs. Marson. However, her husband interrupted, "I wasn’t interested in the scenery at all. I wanted a picture of her."
As it turns out, he would have much more than that photo to remember Diane. The two now live in Spring and are celebrating their 19th wedding anniversary.
They arrived in Washington D.C. Friday for the Broadway Musical "Come From Away" about the welcoming and healing hospitality they received from our Canadian neighbors as evil infiltrated America.
"I don’t want people to forget what happened. I want it to bring us together rather than divide us," says Mrs. Marson. "Get up in the morning and try to be your best self. Be respectful of the other person. Open doors for others, let them in in traffic, say good morning," adds Mr. Marson.
Mr. and Mrs. Marson, who are now 73 and 80-years-old, respectively, said as we reflect on the 20 years since the 9/11 attacks they hope you’ll remember this love story. Not necessarily the one about their meeting and marriage but the thousands maybe millions of strangers who showed love after a terrible tragedy, love they say needs to be revisited.