Nine years and four months ago my publishing partner and I went into overdrive to respond to the pain families were suffering from the 9/11 attacks. As journalists and owners of a publishing company, we knew first-hand how the written word can be more powerful than a raging river when it comes to healing.
Recognizing that an avalanche of heartwarming stories detailing courage, sacrifice and giving beyond comprehension needed to be shared with the world we began to solicit stories through our contacts. Days turned into nights – many that slipped by with endless tears.
Volunteers, editors and graphic designers pooled their talents and came to edit and sort the hundreds of stories we received. Glory: A Nation’s Spirit Defeats the Attack on America debuted at a national book conference in Florida just seven weeks after 9/11.
“We were a nation of people running on sorrow, fear and adrenalin,” said Sandy Scoville CEO of SP PRESS. “Each one of us felt we had to DO something. We experienced 9/11 as Americans, and vicariously as editors – reliving the event with each story submitted to us and providing a written voice for many directly affected. For me personally, it was the most emotionally intense sleep-deprived seven weeks of my life.”
It was the after-effects, however, that deeply touched our hearts. The voices that repeatedly said, “Thank you for letting me breathe again.” “You have changed my life with this book.” “I will never forget your leading me through this horrific time in my life.”
This past week our nation did indeed “defeat the attack on America.” It was once again a nation brought together in praise and solidarity. From one news broadcast to another, those who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks voiced some comfort and a bit of closure from Bin Laden’s death.
Rene Nurse, a San Diego Firefighter and member of California Task Force 8, a special Federal Government Rescue Team called USAR (Urban Search & Rescue Task Force), was sent to the Towers rubble to search for wounded victims. His shock and anger at the horrific loss of human life on September 11 was staggering, but he felt a responsibility to be there.
“It was like a scene from Dante’s Inferno. The smell of body decay is everywhere,” Nurse wrote in the book. He had called us when he heard about the book, but professed he didn’t know what to write. I told him to write what’s in his heart. He sent us 11 hand-written pages. I would later be told by him, and his wife Elsa, that it was that act that allowed him to breathe again.