Jon Widing said that "everybody was doing what they could" to help in relief efforts after 9/11.
Gifts from all over were piled in the New York church where he slept sometimes during his year as support chaplain at Ground Zero and Disaster Mortuary.
Free massages, medical care and basic necessities were offered.
His own desire to help people grew and he decided he wanted to be more than a chaplain. He trained to be a firefighter and EMT.
As he drove back and forth from Connecticut to New York, he noticed the American flags along the highway and at homes.
The tragedy increased his patriotism and, surprisingly, his faith in humanity as the country came together as one. Americans' strength did not diminish, he said.
"We will rise again," Widing said. "We are people of the rising."