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It was an assignment that veteran journalist Carlos Harrison couldn't allow to pass.

At the time a deputy managing editor for People Magazine en Español, a Spanish-American monthly version of the well-known weekly publication, his boss asked Harrison whether he had knowledge of a certain place in Silvis.

"My boss said to me one day, 'Have you heard of Hero Street?' I said I hadn't and he told me I ought to look into it someday," Harrison said from his home in Miami.

"The story just never ended up getting done before I left (the magazine)," he said. "But after I left, it kept nagging at me because I had been looking into it, and I was fascinated."

Harrison, whose resume includes a Pulitzer Prize-winning stint at the Miami Herald and as a television producer for Fox News, said he became intrigued with the history of Hero Street, a 1 1/2-block-long area of 2nd Street in Silvis from where more than 100 men and women have joined the military, including eight men who "gave the ultimate sacrifice" during wartime combat, he said.

After seven years, which included four years of writing and research and two more years trying to get the book sold, "The Ghosts of Hero Street" will hit bookshelves nationwide on Tuesday, published by Penguin Books. That same day, Harrison will be in Silvis, signing copies of the book. He also will make an appearance at Black Hawk College in Moline.

"Some stories just are meant to be told," he said. "I wasn't thinking, 'Oh, let me adapt this for an audience.' I thought, 'Let me tell the story the best I can and do service to these people.' "

Harrison, 57, made three trips to Silvis in the course of doing his research. A fire at the National Records Center in St. Louis during the 1970s, he said, destroyed millions of military records, including those of the Hero Street coalition.

"I had to piece together stuff separately," he said. "I can't tell you how many times I called and I would track people down who were in the same unit."

Harrison said he was aware of both Quad-Citian Marc Wilson's award-winning book "Hero Street U.S.A." and the documentary about Hero Street currently in production by Moline filmmakers Kelly and Tammy Rundle.

He said his book is not in competition with those efforts, that they are just different angles on telling the same story.

"When you send that many of your children off to fight, that says something," he said. "The Defense Department recognized that and the name Hero Street recognized that."

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