by Chaplain Bob Ossler and Janice Hall Heck
“Heroes may not be braver than anyone else. They’re just braver five minutes longer.” Ronald Reagan
First responders, emergency workers, firefighters, police officers, construction workers search and rescue teams, search and recovery teams, and all the volunteers associated with the war-zone clean-up of ruin and loss–these were the true Ground Zero heroes. Showing strength deep within their souls, these men and women embodied the definition of endurance, heart, and true grit.
A hero willingly and knowingly risks personal safety and well-being for another human being. At Ground Zero, heroes of all kinds surrounded us. These heroes worked long hours during the day and then worked more hours at night under blazing lights. Committed to teamwork, they worked to the point of exhaustion and beyond, single-minded in purpose and laser-focused on the job at hand. After the hope of finding survivors faded, they doggedly searched for remains of work associates and civilians.
Danger surrounded them. Cave-ins on the Pile occurred without warning. The air they breathed contained not only the stench of death, but also asbestos particles, fiberglass splinters, toxic chemicals, and incinerated human remains–air that could poison their futures.
These heroes sacrificed time with their families to serve their crews, their city, and their country.
A few said, “It’s hard to be called a hero when you feel so eaten down and demoralized.” But these folks rose out of the ashes and served well. They deserve to be called heroes.
Excerpt from Triumph Over Terror