There is a number that has been seared in my subconscious for a couple of decades now — “110,” as in 110 stories of the World Trade Center. It’s a figure that I routinely use as a goal in order to remember and reflect on the worst moment in US history during my lifetime.
First responders hate sitting on the sidelines when a crisis is unfolding. That was my feeling on Sept. 11, 2001, as I watched the horror on television from a safe location on the West Coast. Naturally, we had to take precautions in my jurisdiction during a day of chaos, but our experiences cannot be mentioned in the same breath with the horrors encountered by our brothers and sisters on the East Coast.
Over the years I developed a habit to help keep the memory alive. When working out at the gym, I combine weight training with cardio. My anaerobic exercise on any given day might include rowing, elliptical, stair climber, or cycling.
Whenever I get on the stepmill I complete 110 floors (stories) in memory of brave first responders who perished on 9/11.
Regardless of the time of year, this remains my practice. It isn’t monumental or ceremonial, but it’s a simple reminder to remember the sacrifices made on a dark day in American history.
Whenever I watch a feature about 9/11, I’m hypnotized by images on the screen. It’s happened a lot in the past few days. I’m proud to be part of a profession that possesses anonymous heroes willing to sacrifice safety for the wellbeing of humanity.
However, I’m also filled with sorrow that America seems to have a short attention span. Cumulatively, we forget the lessons learned during tragedies and quickly retreat to our corners. My hope this year is that people will take personal inventory and help restore fading values that made America great.