Our book, Triumph Over Terror, coauthored by Bob Ossler Chaplain and Janice Hall Heck, has been nominated for the 2018 Christian Indie Award. NonFiction category.
Click here to vote: 2018 Christian Indie Award.
Triumph Over Terror is a book about Chaplain Bob Ossler’s experiences at Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.
Here is an excerpt:
Sweeper Man’s Hopeless Task
“I must lose myself in action, lest I whither in despair.” –Alfred Lord Tennyson
Soon after our introduction to St. Paul’s Chapel [where volunteers were housed], a volunteer guide offered to take us on a tour of Ground Zero. As I walked with about twenty other chaplains toward the smoking, smoldering, seven-stories high wreckage of buildings and souls, we passed a fatherly-looking figure pushing a long-handled broom. A dirty sweatshirt barely covered his protruding belly. White chalky ask shrouded his pant legs–the pulverized cement of collapsed buildings intermingled with ashes of cremated bodies. Engulfed in the stench of death, he swept and pushed, swept and pushed at piles of dust-fine ash and dirt, twisted metal and broken glass, chunks of concrete, tangled wires, and papers blown from the demolished towers. Debris stretched as far as the eye could see, endless–but still Sweeper Man swept and pushed, swept and pushed.
To restore order to his street, one man faced the greatest physical and emotional challenge of his lifetime. He picked up his broom to do something, anything, no matter how small.
Swoosh, swoosh. Swoosh, swoosh. A symbol of hope. He pushed his long-handled broom slowly but steadily, shoving away the rubble and ash of shattered buildings and lives.
As our group of chaplains walked by on Sweeper Man’s newly created path, he stepped aside. We greeted him, and he nodded. After we passed him, I looked back. He leaned on his broom, lowered his head, and began to cry. In that overwhelming mess, he looked so forlorn trying to clear his patch of the city he loved. Seeing him weep over his broom broke my heart.
I walked back and embraced him. He grabbed onto me and sobbed on my shoulder. “I’m exhausted from trying to clean up this mess. It’s hopeless. Hopeless. Hopeless.”
I hugged him harder and complimented him on his nice, clean area, and how much I appreciated the time and effort he invested into clearing the trash and junk away. Before I moved back to the group of chaplains, I offered to share a prayer with him. He accepted, so we prayed together and asked God for strength in these terrible times.
Sweeper Man thanked me for the hug, the prayer, and the encouragement. After I turned to catch up to my group, he went back to work with his broom to make his path wider–sweeping, sweeping,
A tragedy of unspeakable proportions left his little corner of New York City totally trashed, but he persevered in his work.
Steady. Reliable. Crushed in spirit, but buoyed with enough encouragement to begin again, to take one more step, to push the broom one more time, to sweep away at the ruins threatening to bury all hope.
Sweeper Man reminded me of an important lesson that day: No matter the job, every single person who works in disaster cleanup is important and needs to be appreciated and recognized for their efforts.
Even though I may never see Sweeper Man again, for one moment in time, our lives connected, and God’s love touched us both.
Used by permission, Blackside Publishing.
VOTE for Triumph Over Terror in the Christian Indie Awards contest NON-fiction category.
Vote for other excellent writers:
Pam Halter, Willoughby and the Terribly Itchy Itch
Candy Abbott, I’ve Never Loved Him More
MaryAnn Diorio, The Dandelion Patch and Return to Bella Terra
Kathryn Ross, The Gatekeeper’s Key
Michele Chynoweth, The Peace Maker