Exhausted Chaplain – September 11 Photo Project

“Chaplain.”

Long after midnight, as I trudged off the Pile at Ground Zero in 2001 and headed to St. Paul’s Chapel for some much needed food and rest, I heard a voice call out of the darkened, ash-filled air.

I turned, and photographer Mary Gepana Eble took the picture in this photo below.

mary-eble-photo-at-ny-library

I didn’t know her at the time, but she tracked me down a few months later and sent me an album of her photos from Ground Zero. I treasured those photos and showed them to many people over the years.

This year, as I worked on the manuscript of Triumph Over Terror, I showed this picture to my writing partner, Janice Hall Heck.

“We have to find Mary and get permission to use the picture in our book!” she said.

But I only remembered that Mary was from California.

We Tweeted. We put messages on Facebook. We searched the Internet. We called old New York friends and friends of friends. No luck. No Mary.

Then I took one picture out of the album and turned it over. And there it was. Mary’s address.

One telephone call later, Bob told Mary about our writing project, and she agreed to let us use the picture. This photo was part of a traveling exhibit of the September 11 Photo Project. The photos now rest in the archives of the New York City Library.

There’s more.

On Friday night of last week, September 9, 2016, we held a Book Launch for Triumph Over Terror at the Cumberland County Community Church in Millville, NJ, where I am Pastor of Visitation. Fifteen minutes before the program start time, in walks Mary Gepana Eble. She flew from California to be at this special event. What a great surprise. (Jan was in on the secret but kept her silence).

mary-eble-at-cccc-book-launch

Now this week, Mary is in New York visiting family members, and she tracked down the original photo at the New York City Library and took a picture of the photo, retrieved from the archives by a helpful librarian.

Thank you, Mary. You touched my heart with your surprise visit and now this photo of the original photo you took fifteen years ago.

Tonight, September 13, 2016, Mary posted this photo on Facebook.

“I wrote this note on the back of my firefighter image of Bob Ossler Chaplain that is now part of the Sept 11 Photo Project.”

mary-gepana-eble-note-on-bobs-picture