I read these words I wrote many years ago.  The words you see below titled, Thoughts on September 11th.  I wrote to help remember.  I repost this every year because every year we have new members, but I mainly repost it so that I will continue to read and remember.  While the attack on our country happened 17 years ago time is not healing.  The aftermath continues as we speak.  This year when I read Thoughts on September 11th I can’t help but think of two men we lost this year:  NYPD police officers Scott Blackshaw and Mark Natale.  Both lost hard-fought battles with Ground Zero-related cancer, Mark on May 4th, 2018 and Scott on May 20th, 2018.  Scott was 52 and is survived by his step-brother.  Mark was 55 and left behind his wife and 3 children.  Scott was one of my training partners at the defensive tactics school we trained at for over 15 years.  Mark and I worked together in the 83rd precinct in Brooklyn then the Brooklyn North Task Force where we were radio car partners for a time. 

Fortunately, I spent time with Scott and Mark in the weeks before they passed.  

Scott and I reminisced about things we did and the people we trained with. After a brief lull in the conversation, Scott turned to me and said, “A few years ago I thought I was going to live forever.”  I’d like to tell you I responded with something witty or something comforting but I didn’t.  I put my hand on his shoulder which was half the size it used to be and I said, “I’m sorry Scott and I’m glad I’m spending time with you today.”  Scott left shortly after our conversation.  I helped him put his jacket on as he struggled.  It took every ounce of my strength to keep it together.  I walked Scott to the car he was being driven in and said goodbye.  This would be the last time I saw and spoke to my friend.

Lisa and I went to Mark’s house with the realization that Mark’s brain tumor left him unable to speak or control his body the way he once did.  The way we’re supposed to.  Like Scott, Mark was a shell of the man he used to be.  He was awake in a hospital bed set up in his living room  Lisa and I spoke to him like we always did as if he would answer us back or take part in the conversation.  Lisa prayed “with” Mark at one point and a single tear rolled down his cheek.  I spoke to Mark about when we worked together and he motioned for me to move closer.  I did.  Mark grabbed me to pull me in closer to hug me.  For about 30 seconds Mark hugged me with all the strength he could muster.  Again, I found myself using my own strength not to break down.  We spoke to Mark’s wife for a while then said our goodbyes.  Mark, needed help to do everything but when we were leaving he was able to raise his arm and give us a quick wave goodbye.  This would be our last “conversation”.  This would be our last goodbye.

I had great times with both of these gentlemen.  I feel fortunate that I had them in my life.—George



Scott Blackshaw                                                                                                                                                                                     Mark Natale

See the source image


by George Demetriou
On September 11th my thoughts, like the thoughts of millions of Americans, are on the attack from seventeen 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.   I think of those who never came out.

I think of Detective Viggiano who was an Academy mate, winner of 3 close range gunfights 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.

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 the 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 nightfall 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 serve in the company of heroes and am honored to have done so.

I think of Mark Natale, Scott Blackshaw, Marci Simms, Mike Quinn, friends and co-workers who died of 9/11-related illnesses.

I think of Denise, Andy, and Manu.  Members of CrossFit Suffolk.  On that day one lost her firefighter father, one lost his firefighter uncle and one nearly lost his life.

I think of Rick Rescorla.  Rescorla was the Vice-President 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.  Seventeen 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.

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


Lisa, September 2001

Lisa at ground Zero 2

Workout of the Day
Front Squat
1X5 @ 60% of 1RM
1X5 @ 70%
1X5 @ 80%

5 Rounds for time:
6 Ring Dips (sport: Bar Muscle Up)
6 Back Squats at 80% of 1RM  (scale to a weight that is manageable)


OR, if time permits and you are so inclined:

The 9/11 Tribute Workout
For Time
2001 meter Run
11 Box Jumps (30/24 in)
11 Thrusters (125/85 lbs)
11 Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups
11 Power Cleans (170/115 lbs)
11 Handstand Push-Ups
11 Kettlebell Swings (32/24 kg)
11 Toes-to-Bar
11 Deadlifts (170/115 lbs)
11 Push Jerks (110/75 lbs)
2001 meter Row
Athletes may start with Row and end with Run, or start with Run and end with Row.

Post your scores to the Whiteboard.



9-11-never-forget firefighters


6 Responses

  1. John H

    Thank You Lisa and George for sharing your personal experiences and loss and for bringing us back to September 11, 2001 …Never Forget

  2. Tiffany

    Thank you for posting these words George and reminding us all of the horrors and loss that occurred, but also of the bravery, heroism, and patriotism from so many.

  3. Amie

    Remembering all those lost during and after 9/11 attacks and praising all first responders and civilian heroes and our military. Never forget. I will also personally never forget my court officer brothers and sisters who were not ordered to go into WTC but did so voluntarily and some gave their lives that day and others Who have succumbed to cancer from the toxins at ground zero.

  4. Tara

    Thank you for posting this George. I read it every year. The story of your and Lisa’s friends brought tears to my eyes. I am so sorry for your loss. 17 years and it still feels like yesterday. “Never Forget”

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