Plaque will recognize Canada’s support for U.S. after 9/11



As part of the 10th anniversary celebrations to mark the deadly terrorist attacks in the United States, a plaque will be unveiled in front of the U.S. Consulate on University Ave. to acknowledge the support of Canadians during and after that crisis.

On September 11, 2001, two U.S. commercial planes ploughed into the World Trade Centre’s twin towers within an 18-minute span. Planes later crashed into the Pentagon in Washington and a Pennsylvania field. The co-ordinated suicide attacks claimed nearly 3,000 lives.

“This is our way of saying thanks to all Canadians for doing what Canada does best and that’s being with the United States in its most difficult moments,” U.S. Consul General in Toronto, Kevin Johnson, said at a reception last week at York University to mark the official launch of The Harriet Tubman Institute’s Itinerary of Memory initiative. “Those difficult moments are not only when we are attacked from abroad.

“Harriet Tubman became a hero partly by coming North at a time when the U.S. was not living up, even in the meanest fashion, to its values…Canada was with us then as part of an empire that at least, in one very important way, was more enlightened and it provided hope to hundreds of thousands of people. That heroism is something that’s shared by all humanity looking backwards…No country has ever had a better neighbour than the U.S. has in Canada.”

Johnson said it was a great honour to represent his country at last week’s historic event highlighting the importance of the African-Canadian past within the framework of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Slave Route Project.

“The timing of this announcement could not have been better,” said Johnson who attended a plaque-unveiling ceremony last May at the Salem Church in St. Catharines to recognize Harriet Tubman as a Person of National Historical Significance.

Two weeks ago, Maryland’s governor Martin O’Malley announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded his state $8.5 million in federal funding for construction of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Centre in Dorchester County.

This is the final funding component for the $21 million project of national significance to move forward.

The groundbreaking ceremony takes place next year and the centre is slated for completion in 2013, 100 years after Tubman’s death.

Born in Dorchester County, Tubman escaped to freedom in 1849 after which she made 13 trips to Maryland, leading 70 of her family and friends to freedom. She lived for a few years in St. Catharines during the 1850s before moving to Auburn, New York after most of the northern states passed liberty laws protecting the rights of fugitive slaves.

A 30-foot tall memorial of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was unveiled two weeks ago on the National Mall. It’s the first memorial on the Mall not dedicated to a war, president or White man.

The unveiling took place 15 years after a Congressional Joint Resolution to establish a memorial in Washington D.C. to recognize King.

“After years of talk and difficult fundraising, a memorial to another hero of humanity is being opened,” said Johnson.

The winning design was inspired by the line from King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope”.

Last Sunday’s dedication ceremony was postponed because of Hurricane Irene.

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