Jessica DuLong is a journalist, historian, book collaborator, and ghostwriter, as well as chief engineer, emerita of the retired 1931 New York City fireboat, John J. Harvey. Her latest book, Saved at the Seawall: Stories from the September 11 Boat Lift, is the definitive history of the largest ever waterborne evacuation. Her first book, My River Chronicles: Rediscovering the Work that Built America, won an American Society of Journalists and Authors Outstanding Book Award for Memoir. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, CNN.com, Newsweek International, Psychology Today, Huffington Post, Newsday, and Maritime Reporter and Engineering News. She appears in Spike Lee’s forthcoming HBO docuseries “NYC Epicenters 9/11→2021½” and, in cartoon form, in Maira Kalman’s picture book, Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey.
We diminish our shared humanity when we insist on thinking of heroes as exceptional. Heroes are ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances.