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It was requested that we explain why we decided to participate in an awareness promotion/fund raiser workout for the cause of autism.  Up to this point we never said what our motivation is and, quite frankly, we had no intention of explaining.  This was for various reasons, including the character-flaw of keeping a low profile.  I say “flaw” because in certain instances keeping a “low profile” does more harm than good.  Autism awareness and raising money for autism research is a good cause and one that should be spoken about and promoted.  Hosting “Lift Up Autism” at our gym is our way of making a small donation to the cause.  The main reason we decided to host “Lift Up Autism” and the best reason I can think of is this: We have, amongst our membership, at least 4 parents that have an autistic child.  We have received quite the education on autism by our friends who quietly go about the business of raising an autistic child.  Of all the fund raising workouts we can do, “Lift Up Autism” is one that strikes close to home!  We appreciate your support for the cause.


I usually post “Thoughts on September 11th” on September 11th, but this year September 11th falls on a Sunday.  Sunday is quiet day for us at the gym and on the website.  Since Lisa and I were members of the NYPD during September 11th 2001 it is not uncommon for us to get asked about that day.  Lisa still doesn’t like to talk about it.  I don’t mind.  To keep my memories from fading I wrote “Thoughts On September 11th”.  Writing this served two purposes: one, it was cathartic for me, and two, it provided an outline for those who wanted my perspective.  The thoughts and emotions I experienced are still as strong as they were fifteen years ago.  Just typing the words, “fifteen years ago” causes me to pause and question if that is the number of years that have actually past since that day.  If I had to add to “Thoughts On September 11th” I would mention another group of individuals.  In the days, perhaps weeks, after the attack I said something to one of my co-workers that haunts me to this day.  Did you ever make a prediction that you hoped you were completely wrong about?  The statement to my co-worker was one of those predictions.

I said, “This attack is going to kill some of our friends ten, maybe more, years from now.”

I never wanted to be more wrong about something, but I wasn’t.  9/11-related cancer deaths continue to happen.  We continue to lose friends that spent time working on “The Pile” or those who had sifted through the remains of what was the The World Trade Center and the remains of the people we lost there that day.  Our friends who have gone were all too young and too filled with life to depart so soon.

So here it goes:

Thoughts on September 11th was written and placed on the Spartan Performance/CrossFit Suffolk blog back in 2008.  We’ve re-posted it every September 11th since.  It was written to help those too young to understand and it was written to help remember.  Mostly, it was written to help me never forget.  I think about the things described below often, but not all at once.  Memories are fractured, but they still live in my mind.  On this day every year I stop and reflect on it all, everything I can remember about that day.—George



by George Demetriou

On September 11th my thoughts, like the the thoughts of millions of Americans, are on the attack from fifteen years ago and on the people who lost their lives. 

I think of my brother and sister NYPD officers who were not obligated to enter the Twin Towers, but did so selflessly anyway because of a sense of duty and of those who never came out. 

I think of Detective Viggiano who was an Academy mate, winner of 3 close range gun fights with drug dealers, but was killed by enemies from afar, murderers who were already in hell by the time Viggiano lost his life. 

I think about Sgt. Gillis, a childhood friend of my wife, who was on his way home, off-duty, when the attack occurred.  Rodney went to the Towers anyway.  All that was recovered was some of his equipment. 

I think of the horrible images of seeing people jumping from the Towers and the one documentary where you could hear bodies hitting the building or the ground. 

I think of standing before the “Pile”, awestruck, looking for something that resembled a piece of office furniture,  or anything that would connect the destruction to the fact that people worked here days before and seeing nothing, but smashed steel and concrete, trying to deal with the fact that the “pile” was once the World Trade Center. 

I think of my wife, working in NYPD headquarters for her regular shift then walking down to the “Pile” because she had to “find my friends”.  She never did.  She was diagnosed with something called RADS (Reactive Airway Dysfunction) shortly after working at Ground Zero. 

Lisa 9 11

I think of the people who paid the ultimate price just for showing up at work on a beautiful September day. 

I think of the children who had their mother or father taken from them. 

I think of Tommy from my hometown.  We went to the Academy together, but Tommy left the Police Department and went to the Fire Department.  He entered the Towers and like over 300 of his fellow firefighters, never made it out. 

I think of the Port Authority Police Officers and the Court Officers, many who came from other locations or from home and paid the ultimate price. 

But I also think of the way the people of New York came together to help others. 

I think of the groups of people on the West Side Highway who would just stand there for hours cheering us on and thanking us whenever cops went by them. 

I think of the response by volunteers from the suburbs, other states and Canada.  They brought food, medical equipment, search equipment, search dogs, but mostly they brought love of their fellow human beings. 

I think of volunteers, David Karnes and Jason Thomas, two retired Marine Corps Sgts., who continued to search after night fall and found trapped and injured Port Authority Police Officers. 

I think of the response by our military, especially the work done by our Special Operations Command and the work they are still doing. 

I think of the fantastic work done by my former co-workers of the NY office of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, an awesome collection of NYPD Detectives, State Troopers, FBI Special Agents, Customs Enforcement Agents, Immigration Enforcement Agents, Port Authority Police Detectives, CIA Officers, NSA Officers, US Marshals, Coast Guard Officers and some I’m probably forgetting.  I truly got to serve in the company of heroes and am honored to have done so. 

I think of Rick Rescorla.  Rescorla was the VP of Security for Morgan Stanley/Dean Witter, the largest tenant of the World Trade Center.  Rescorla served in the Army and fought in the Battle of Ia Drang, Viet Nam in 1965…the battle depicted in the book, We Were Soldiers Once…And Young by General Hal Moore and Joseph Galloway.  Rescorla’s photo graces the cover of the book.  Rescorla was proactive as a security official.  He would have the people he was responsible for practice evacuating the building.  Thirteen years ago today he effectively evacuated nearly three thousand employees of Morgan Stanley/Dean Witter out of the World Trade Center.  He saved the entire company except for himself and some of his staff who stayed behind to make sure they didn’t leave anyone “on the field of battle”.  The entire time of the evacuation Rescorla kept everyone calm and moving along, while singing and stating, “Today is a day to be proud to be an American” through his bullhorn. 

Mostly I think that Rescorla’s last words to the employees of Morgan Stanley/Dean Witter are so true today as they were fifteen years ago.




















Workout of the Day
Lift Up Autism Workout: “Luke”
4 Power Cleans: 155 lbs. men/105 lbs. women
24 Double Unders
10 Pull-Ups

“9-11 Throwdown WOD”

2001m Row/Run
11 Box Jumps (36?/24?)
11 Thrusters (125#/85#) * Deaths at the Pentagon
11 Burpee Chest-to-Bar Pull-ups
11 Power Cleans (175#/120#) * AA Flight 175 South Tower
11 Handstand Push-ups
11 Kettlebell Swings (70#/53#)
11 Toes-to-Bar
11 Deadlift (170#/120#) * Flight 77 and Flight 93
11 Push Jerk (110#/75#) * Number of Floors in each Tower
2001m Row/Run
NOTE:  We will scale this workout as necessary.  This workout is done with a row in the beginning OR at the end.  If you row first you must run at the end.  In order to free-up the limited number of rowers we will allow you to run in the beginning and at the end.  The run is 1 and a quarter miles. ( one mile and a 400 meter run).  
Post your scores to the Whiteboard.

The Real Heroes Are Dead (click on the highlighted title to read the full article)

“Hill could hear Rescorla issuing orders through the bullhorn. He was calm and collected, never raising his voice. Then Hill heard him break into song:

Men of Cornwall stop your dreaming;
Can’t you see their spearpoints gleaming?
See their warriors’ pennants streaming
To this battlefield.
Men of Cornwall stand ye steady;
It cannot be ever said ye
for the battle were not ready;
Stand and never yield!

Rescorla came back on the phone. “Pack a bag and get up here,” he said. “You can be my consultant again.” He added that the Port Authority was telling him not to evacuate and to order people to stay at their desks.

”What’d you say?” Hill asked.

”I said, ‘Piss off, you son of a bitch,’ “ Rescorla replied. “Everything above where that plane hit is going to collapse, and it’s going to take the whole building with it. I’m getting my people the fuck out of here.” Then he said, “I got to go. Get your shit in one basket and get ready to come up.”

Hill turned back to the TV and, within minutes, saw the second plane execute a sharp left turn and plunge into the south tower. Susan saw it, too, and frantically phoned her husband’s office. No one answered.

About fifteen minutes later, the phone rang. It was Rick. She burst into tears and couldn’t talk.

”Stop crying,” he told her. “I have to get these people out safely. If something should happen to me, I want you to know I’ve never been happier. You made my life.”

Susan cried even harder, gasping for breath. She felt a stab of fear, because the words sounded like those of someone who wasn’t coming back. “No!” she cried, but then he said he had to go. Cell-phone use was being curtailed so as not to interfere with emergency communications.”James B. Stewart, The New Yorker, February 11, 2002

17 Responses

  1. Andy

    George I am really excited you are doing the 9/11 memorial WOD today. I was going to ask if it would be okay to do it after the autism awareness WOD. This really means a lot to me on a personal level as I do this workout every year. Looking forward to seeing you today ????

  2. Bevin

    The page is incredibly moving and inspiring today for many I am sure. This is what a sign of family is. Supporting and honoring. And this is why our Crossfit is so special. I hope the fund raiser today is a huge success. And to the people who lost a loved one on or as a result of 9/11, you’re in my thoughts and prayers.

  3. Al

    George and Lisa..I want to thank you for hosting “Lift up Autism”. That is a wonderful cause and it breaks my heart that Trish and I can’t be at the gym today due to a family obligation. You and Lisa spent a career serving and protecting the comunity of NYC and now you serve and protect the community of Crossfit Suffolk. Thank you and God bless you both.

  4. Bethie

    Once again George has shown why Crossfit Suffolk is the amazing place and group of people that it is. This morning was filled with people there, not just to do the Saturday work out but to support the Lift Up Autism cause and to do the 9/11 workout. In reading George’s thoughts on 9/11 it reminds us first of why we have such respect and love for George and Lisa. They gave it everything they could and we are lucky they survived. However, it makes me sad that the American people forget what the Police Agencies, Fire Departments, Homeland Security, the Armed Services etc. did for all of us. What they continue to do for all of us. The sacrifices that were made on 9/11 and beyond are awe inspiring and I wish that could be remembered and appreciated. For those in our gym that lost someone that day, please know you are always in our thoughts and prayers. You too suffered the ultimate sacrifice in your loss.

  5. Ken

    Fifteen years ago George you and Lisa, in addition to your work on the NYPD, were training other “good guys” to defend themselves. Now, I pass those skills along to other “good guys” whenever I can. I keep myself in shape in case I have to use those skills myself.
    I thank you both for what you do.

  6. Kristin G

    Wow George love your words here. Stories of that day always hit me straight in the gut. You and Lisa are some awesome people. Thank you for your service that day 15 years ago.

  7. Eddie

    I didn’t get a chance to go yesterday since I had some family stuff going on but I’m happy I got to do the workout today with a couple of others. I’ll never forget that day. I was in middle school, 3rd period honors math when a teacher rushed in and whispered in our teachers ear what had happened. Our teacher then closed the door and told us since we were the honors class we were mature enough to handle the information. She told us the news, I don’t think any of us really grasped the siverity of the situation until, one by one, all our parents started picking us up early from school. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized how major it was, it was on every single channel. The eerie part is that my dad is a carpenter by trade and works in the city often, building booths and cabinets for restaurants/clubs/etc. He was supposed to be working at a steakhouse in the financial district that day. That morning he had left for work and 20 minutes into his commute he turned his truck around and came back home because he wasn’t feeling well. In all the years I’ve seen my dad go to work I don’t remember ever hearing about him calling out or anything. I still can’t fathom those events. I know I’m one of the lucky ones from that day. A special thank you to you and Lisa for your service. I’m proud to know you both.

  8. George Demetriou

    Thank you for the kind words Eddie!

    Thank you for sharing that story. I’ve heard similar stories fro other people I know. One woman we know, who worked in the WTC, was late to work because her daughter insisted on being driven to school that day instead of taking the bus. Nobody can explain why. There are many other stories like this.

    I’m glad your father trusted his intuition and stayed home.

    I often think about the people who heard the inner voice of their intuition on that day, but dismissed it and went to work anyway.

    Remind me to tell you about the engineer Lisa spoke to on the Long Island Rail Road about 2 weeks before September 11th, 2001. It’s completely eerie and I remember it like it was yesterday. One of the eerie aspects of it is Lisa has ZERO recollection of the conversation or meeting. She looks at me like I’m crazy when I bring it up. It’s like a Twilight Zone episode.

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