Date Line: August 20, 2012
We are traveling in the Canadian Maritime Provinces and in Gander, Newfoundland we found a most significant Memorial. I feel I must share its story with you.
Silent Witness Memorial at Gander, NL
On December 11, 1985, a Douglas DC-8 departed Cairo, Egypt on an international charter flight to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, USA, via Cologne, Germany, and Gander, Newfoundland. On board were eight crew members and 248 passengers. The flight was the return portion of the Multinational Force Observers from peace keeping duties in the Sinai Desert. All 248 passengers who departed Cairo on the 11th December 1985 were members of the 101st Airborne Division, United States Army, based at Fort Campbell.
The flight departed Gander at 6:45 am. December 13th. The aircraft gained little altitude after rotation and began to descend until it crashed on the sloping terrain approximately 3000 ft beyond the departure end of the runway. The aircraft was destroyed by impact forces and severe fuel-fed fire. All 256 occupants on board sustained fatal injuries. The Air Crash is the worst air disaster ever on Canadian soil.
This memorial depicts an unarmed soldier standing atop a massive rock holding the hands of two civilian children. The children, a boy and a girl, each hold an olive branch, indicative of the peace keeping mission of the 101st Airborne Division "Screaming Eagles" on the Sinai Peninsula. Behind them rise three tall staff flag poles each bearing a flag, Canadian, American, and Newfoundland. As the trio stands looking into the future; they are surrounded by trees, hills, and rocks of the actual Air Crash site, overlooking Gander Lake in the direction of Fort Campbell, Kentucky. These natural surroundings are the "Silent Witnesses" of the precise moment when 256 dreams ended, and the hearts and imaginations of an entire world were captured. This site is a honored place in Gander. This Monument was erected by the Masons of Newfoundland and Labrador in honor of those who served in the cause of humanity.
The Masonic tribute honored this reverent place with serene dignity. It is not often that we see at a National Shrine in public display recognized by the Masonic Fraternity.
Is this not a silent reminder to All Masons that “Little Eyes are Watching Us”?
The visit to this National Monument in Newfoundnland, Canada was a powerful Masonic moment for us, and I had to share its significance with you.
Yours in the Faith,
Norm Ribble, 33°