The terrible earthquake that struck Italy on August 24, 2016 completely devastated the town of Pescara del Tronto, which lies 93 miles northeast of Rome. Rescue workers had already been active for some time as they dug four-year-old Giorgia Renaldo out from under a mountain of debris—incredibly, she was still alive. That she survived was thanks to her nine-year-old sister Giulia, whose dead body was also salvaged from the wreckage. Giulia had cradled Giorgia’s body in her own as the earthquake began and in so doing, sacrificed her life for her little sister.
One of the firemen who had taken part in the rescue efforts was so moved by the discovery that he wrote a goodbye letter to the brave Giulia:
Facebook/Estate in diretta
I only helped the others to try to get you out of that prison of rubble. I’m sorry if we arrived too late, you had already stopped breathing but I want you to know, from up there, that we did everything that was possible to save you. When I return to my home, in l’Aquila, I’ll know there is an angel watching over me from the sky and, during the night, you will be a shining star. Goodbye Giulia, even if you never met me, I love you.
Here’s a video of the moment of discovery (the girls’ names were mixed up by the rescue workers):
This moving letter first appeared in the newspaper and was soon distributed far and wide across the internet, where the brave rescuer moved the hearts of the whole world. In this way, the fireman made sure that Giulia’s sacrifice would never be forgotten.