NEW YORK CITY (WABC) — There are nearly 3,000 stories of 9/11. Getting that number down to just five was the challenge for author and producer Tim Oliver.
“It’s hard for me not to look at the skyline and think back to 9/11,” the ‘Sky So Blue’ executive producer said.
But he had already written the book ‘Finding 15,’ based on names he had grown to know almost as well as his own.
“9/11 is the moment that everything kind of… time stands still,” he said.
He wanted to keep that time alive, along with the memory of what happened that September morning out of the clear blue sky.
“Anybody under 30, most of them have no memory of 9/11,” he said. “We’re almost at a third of the American population that don’t remember September 11th.”
Oliver’s inspiration can be found at the 9/11 Memorial in Lower Manhattan. He would pass by every day on his way to work, and it wasn’t long before he started feeling the weight of it. Both sad and inspired, he started looking at the names and thinking about the stories behind them.
“John was the friend that everybody should have,” Oliver said.
John Skala is among the five. He was one of the 412 first responders who died that day.
“He was a police officer and a paramedic and he died in the south tower,” Oliver said.
Amy Jarret was a flight attendant who was supposed to have the day off.
Diane Urban was a woman from Malverne who could have escaped, but stayed to help the injured.
Anthony Liberella was a custodian who survived the 1993 terrorist attack, but not this one.
At the Pentagon was Romeo Bishundat, a young, enlisted man and an immigrant, who died serving his adopted country.
Looking at our politically fractured nation, and remembering how united the country was right after the attacks, Oliver asked the victims’ friends and families a simple question: “How can we unite?”
He started getting some pretty good answers.
“I’m an American, you’re an American. That’s what we are.”
“Not all right-wing agenda is correct, not all left-wing agenda is correct.”
“We’re all in this together.”
One after another, the answers offered reminders of how much more unites us than divides us.
“The families will tell you we need to find that place again, and it’s mostly just through individual interactions, getting out of your comfort zone, listening to people, not looking at everything through the prism of politics,” Oliver said.
That’s the kind of wisdom that can only come from years of introspection. Trying to make sense of the senseless.
“These are people that have been through unimaginable suffering, but they still look at the country as a really hopeful optimistic place, but it starts with us,” Oliver said.
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