I’ll never forget my instant gut reaction as I watched two planes slam into the Twin Towers on 9/11: We’re at war. Oh no, my son is going to war. “Never forget” became America’s rallying cry.
The day that changed the world—September 11, 2001—propelled America into the long war, the Global War on Terror (GWOT). My beloved firstborn, Sgt. First Class Kristoffer Domeij, was deployed to war—fourteen times—and on October 22, 2011 was killed on his 14th deployment.
As this political season drives Americans apart, shared tragedy draws us close. That day of infamy compelled patriotic, young men to sign-up, to serve their country, and to give the ultimate sacrifice. Like the young men and women in uniform who serve our country on the frontlines, Chaplain Bob Ossler donned another uniform—his firefighter turn-out gear. He boarded a plane and made his way to Manhattan to the frontline of Ground Zero to help in any way possible. He was escorted onto the smoldering, quaking heap, dubbed “The Pile.” Entering into the Gates of Hell—the crematorium and morgue for nearly 3000 beloved souls—an electrifying chill of horror shot through him.
Trained as a professional first responder, Ossler served five tours of duty during the cleanup at Ground Zero after 9/11. On the 15th anniversary of 9/11, Bob offers eyewitness vignettes that recount the questions, fears, struggles, and sacrifices of the families and workers overwhelmed by despair in his book, Triumph Over Terror. Chaplain Ossler conducted over 300 mini-memorials for the fragmentary remains carried off the Pile. He comforted the mourners, the frightened, and the heartbroken laborers sifting through millions of tons of carnage for the remains of their faith, their friends, and the unknown dead.
From the broken fragments of glass, steel, and men, Chaplain Ossler’s mosaic of God’s grace unveils the outpouring of generosity, heroism, and unity from people who stepped up to do “something.” Ossler honors the ultimate sacrifice and bravery of first responders who rushed then and rush today toward terror to save lives. The stories in this book remind us of just one more reason we honor the sacrifices, the wounds, and your buddies and our loved ones who died as a direct result of 9/11 and the assault on American soil.
Bringing up his experiences triggered more emotional turmoil than he wanted or expected. Ossler’s first attempts to write about September 11, 2001 and its aftermath stirred up painful flashbacks of traumatic incidents, ending in torrents of tears, frustration, and failure. No training, no school, no book, no expert ever taught Chaplain Ossler how to prepare for the magnitude of Ground Zero. He never told his wife or young children everything he experienced in New York City. He insulated his family from most of what happened, which isolated him from them for many years.
Bob served at Ground Zero and has continued his service to those traumatized by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, after the deaths of 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots marking the nation’s biggest loss of firefighters in a wildfire in 80 years, and most recently in Dallas and Baton Rouge. What do Ossler’s experiences and insights reveal about about finding meaning and purpose in the thick of chaos and personal tragedy? Chaplain Ossler chronicles the best of humanity—acts of courage and goodness in the midst of unimaginable devastation.
As terrorist attacks continue to assault humanity, Triumph Over Terror reveals how your spirit can triumph over terror’s reign, and how you can help those suffering from trauma and loss. As a Gold Star mother, many did not know how to respond or help or support me in my mourning when my son was killed. Chaplain Ossler offers practical advice in Triumph Over Terror from his vast wellspring of experience and training.
- How to Address People’s Physical Needs in Crisis
- How to Respond to People’s Emotional and Spiritual Needs in Crisis
- How to L.I.S.T.E.N. to People in Crisis: 6 Practical Tips
- How to Respond to Suffering and Grief
- How Do People Grieve?
- How to Help a Grieving Person
- How to Speak from the Heart
- What Not to Say: Comments That May Trigger Pain
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Publisher: Blackside Publishing
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