Remembering 9/11 by Not Forgetting 9/12.

Via Tom Grasso (Gyandeva)
on Sep 9, 2011
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Over the last week or so, we have been inundated with images of mighty buildings burning and collapsing thunderously to Earth.

We have heard the many voices of those who would never know their place in history or of the honor their sacrifice brought humanity.

We have been swept up in scenes of unspeakable violence, and of indescribable tragedy.

We have seen the bravery of a few rushing in to save the many, and we have seen countless tears wash the whitened and bloodied faces of those that were left behind.

We have touched fragments of steel, some charred and blackened with evidence of both the best and worst that humans have to offer.

As that date comes within reach, we solemnly remember the cause for which we stand in the quest of living up to our ideals even when our innocence is shattered and our character tested.

This weekend, for me, is about honoring those who sacrificed so much in the service of their fellow man.  As a first responder, I have a certain love of those who would give it all to help a total stranger.  I can relate somewhat to the fear those responders in Manhattan felt climbing step after step toward their destiny.  I can feel the fatigue as they deliberately continued upward toward greatness.  I can sense their call to duty, the unrelenting and unmistakable love in their hearts that drove them beyond the limitations of body and mind.  Their minds did the thinking, their bodies did the work, but it was their souls that lifted them up beyond mortality.

9/11 to me is not about the attacks.  It is not about the twisted remnants of great buildings.  It is not about the fear, or the anger, or the loss.  It is about the love.  It is about giving.  It is about the best that man has to offer one another.  It is about the power of purpose and the sheer greatness of will that makes us who we are.  9/11 to me is not about terror, it is about the unmistakable and undeniable love that unites us all when we no longer are focused on those ideas that divide us.

Firefighter Mike Kehoe

Responders entering those towers on 9/11 were not American.  They were human.  They did not help other Americans, they helped people.  They did not check voter registration cards, or immigration status, or the bank statements of those they were there to help.  They carried with them an air pack, an ax, and left their ideologies and prejudices in their lockers back at the station.  Black, white, brown, yellow, green, purple, orange…whatever you were didn’t matter because they were going to get you out or die trying regardless of it all.

Your burka was irrelevant, your crucifix meaningless.  Where and if you prayed and what language you spoke had no bearing on the day.  What defined you and them was something much deeper than those meaningless ideas that are ordinarily used to define and divide each of us.  For all, it was their finest hour not defined by anything else other than selfless service and unbridled compassion.

Yes, that is what I want to remember about 9/11.

I also remember 9/11 by not forgetting 9/12.  I remember a people united in a common cause of service bound by something far greater than patriotism, or nationality, or faith.  I remember long lines where people of all sizes, shapes, colors, languages and faiths stood together to give blood, sweat, money or just a piece of themselves in a common cause of service.  I remember arms outstretched not to take, but to give.   I had never in my life witnessed or experienced such a large and universal outpouring of selfless love from complete and utter strangers as I had on 9/12.  I was extremely happy to be alive, and I was extremely grateful for those who had led the way and set the example just the day before.

Today, as I view the 10 years since, I see the yin of those two days and the yang we have fallen into since.  We have again become a nation divided by petty ideals and worship of money.  We have again forgotten our brother, our sister, and they seem to have forgotten us.  We have thrown away some of our humanity to fear, and we have allowed ourselves as victim to become the victimizer.  So this weekend to me is about refocusing and this day about dedication.  I want to feel again the nature of the firefighter rushing up thousands of steps toward the needy arms of a total stranger.  I want to feel again the weight of that stranger on my shoulder as I carry them back down.  I don’t want to honor the scrap of metal until I can honor the deep love that showed itself as the best version of who we are on a day that began with the worst version of who we are.  I want to love and be loved without condition…again.  I want to be carried and to carry, to save and be saved, and I want to give it up to you, a person I may have never met in this existence.

So, I remember 9/11 and 9/12.  Not the dates.  Not the twisted and burning buildings.  Not the flag-draped stokes baskets carrying the remains of the best of us.  I remember something so much deeper…in the hopes that this time I may never forget.


Feature image: Clément Belleudy/Flickr


About Tom Grasso (Gyandeva)

Tom Grasso is a Colorado-based seeker, meditator, blogger (new site), and creative wordsmith. More importantly, he is a father of three (meaning he is also a lecturer, teacher, chef, order taker, taxi driver, coach, mentor and aspirin addict) and has found great joy in sharing his life experience to the benefit of others. Tom is an abuse survivor and a reformed (though unapologetic) bad ass warrior who bares the scars of his adventures and the power of transformation in every word he writes. As a former firefighter and rescue tech, Tom understands the fragility of life and the impermanence of each moment. You can follow Tom on Tumblr , and can find his books on Amazon. You will soon be able to purchase Tom's short stories (and erotica) at Don't forget to like his "blog page" at Tom Grasso, Writer on Facebook.  


36 Responses to “Remembering 9/11 by Not Forgetting 9/12.”

  1. I am moved to tears. There is nothing more to say.

  2. skink says:

    Thank you.

  3. tomgrasso says:

    thank you as well.

  4. Sara says:

    You're amazing, and thanks for having hands, because if you weren't a writer there would be something missing in the world.

  5. tomgrasso says:

    The tears in my eyes say "thank you!" Peace.

  6. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Join us! Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
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  7. ZensationalCreations says:

    Dear Waylon and all EJ staff:

    My husband has been glued to the TV this week, watching anything and everything 9/11. As I write this note, he’s watching the dedication ceremony on CNN. His words “I feel that it is my duty to watch and hang on to every name”. Not Me! I brought my laptop and fairly-sourced coffee to the patio to breathe the fresh air, listen to my Karunesh Genre radio on Pandora, and read.

    For many reasons, I've been trying so hard to block all of the 9/11 articles, TV inundation, and buzz in general. Why? I'll spare you the self-assessed psychology on this one. But I have to say, I so enjoyed your Best of the Week, 100% 9/11/11, prolog this morning. Your vision is pretty damn close to mine!
    I especially love this: “So where does this American road go? I can't wait to walk it. We've been given so much by this country. Let's give back by living ordinary life, properly. This is a time for love. Family. For activism. For meditation, and outdoor sports, bicycling, and independent film. For entrepreneurship. For doing the dishes and ending factory farming and enjoying fairly-sourced coffee.”

    So here is my heartfelt thanks to you and all the staff/writers at EJ!
    Love you all. Om Shanti…

  8. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  9. […] Remembering 9/11 by Not Forgetting 9/12 by Tom Grasso […]

  10. Gina Donato says:

    Tom – What a beautiful and uplifting way to look at 9/11 and 9/12. I am adopting your point of view from here on and will keep this in mind as I go about my days and interact with my community. Thank you for sharing it and for speaking to the loving person it all of us. xoxo

  11. tomgrasso says:

    If I am but one ripple in an inundating wave of change I will have done my part. Uh oh Gina, here comes more inspiration!! 🙂 Peace!

  12. Sharon says:

    Wow, just wow. And I had forgotten the quality of 9/12. It was different than anything before or since. Fear and anxiety, sure, but a deep reaching out. Thank you so much.

  13. Gina Donato says:

    Hahaha – Bring it on! I can take it!

  14. tomgrasso says:

    Sharon, did you notice that on 9/12 the fear gave way to compassion and a sense of Oneness if even for a brief moment in time? That was the "Holy Instant", the "Awakening"; a brief moment of collective enlightenment. Had we just held our focus rather than sinking back into emotion and fear imagine the MIRACLE that would have been!!! I believe we had a taste of the future, a small sampling of what is to come.

    Can we all join hands and hearts to relive that moment and work to never let it go?

  15. tomgrasso says:

    I will blame you, of course 😉

  16. Rebecca says:

    Beautifully, beautifully said. Thank you so much! I yearn for the day when we can have the "disaster response" of love and openness for all people without having to experience the disaster and tragedy before it. I hope your words can help lead the way. Thank you!

  17. Melissa says:

    Thank you for this lovely perspective. Your distillation of the day to the basic element of love reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from MLK, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." I hope that we can collectively recall that response.

  18. jhon baker says:

    beautifully written indeed. For another perspective on 9-11 visit – I normally don't whore out my blog like this but I really had something to say today and I've not said anything on this day, today I was inspired by a different thought, a different remembrance and something I never want to forget.

  19. tomgrasso says:

    The poem puts things into perspective. It reminds us that our suffering on that day was but a fraction of the suffering felt around the world, and as we reached out to help each other so should we our brothers and sisters the world over. The trick is in raising awareness while coupling it with compassionate action.

  20. tomgrasso says:

    Awesome Richard. It was good to see our flag represent compassion, love, and mutual respect. May it fly again! 🙂

  21. tomgrasso says:

    In the great words of a Nike marketing team…."JUST DO IT". We can't wait for the other guy to do it, we just need to be a candle…

    I am, for one, done wishing and hoping. I am now DOING.


  22. tomgrasso says:

    Amen to that my sister!

  23. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  24. Kuru says:

    Tom, thanks for the reminder. I so clearly remember those days after 9//11, as my email box was loaded with heartfelt writings from all over the world. All the spiritual leaders commented eloquently. I remember a beauty from Barbara Kingsolver. There were videos of love sent from all over the world. I especially remember someone sent around a copy of MLK Jr's I Have a Dream speech in its entirety. Magnificent. We were truly a world united; our hearts were full. May our magnificent human spirit once again soar and dominate. And blessings to those who gave and gave and gave.

  25. […] It’s what we saw after 9/11: a nation joined by compassion—not a nation separated by fear. […]

  26. Kris Lord says:

    Beautifully written. Thinking of all the victims today, and all those who served those in need! Let us continue to remember our first responders, as some suffer from health issues related to their service in those days afterwards, and they are not all getting the support they deserve.

  27. Angela says:

    Love This reminder<3

  28. Linda V. Lewis says:

    And as a veteran fire fighter, I know you know and can see what is really heartfelt and important with the eyes of compassion.

  29. Sandy says:

    Thank you for this. I was in NYC at the time of the attacks. I saw what happened on 9/12, and this is what I choose to focus on and remember, over everything else. No, we should not forget 9/11. I know I never well. But as the days, weeks, months and years wore on, I felt like everyone had settled into their usual lives again – forgetting to be kind, to look into that stranger's eyes, to remember that we are all here together, to feel that selfless love you wrote about. I hope it doesn't take another tragedy to remember this.

    Thank you also for your work as a firefighter – I am in awe of persons like yourself who choose to do this – truly amazing and inspiring.

  30. It's odd that the common denominator in our equalization is sorrow. That sameness doesn't happen when folks come together to celebrate joyous occasions. Is it about survival wired into out DNA? Is it mostly instinct or is it love? Is love a protective shield that reflects one way during tragedy and deflects in another way during happy times? What funny creatures we are. I am glad you've brought out the best of us here. It is a beautiful thing to behold.

  31. TomGrassoWriter says:

    I've wondered about that Hilary. I tend to see how we emote as being a conditioned response, learned from birth and reinforced as time wears on, a way we get the attention we seek, or the reaction we want, or the balance we need.

  32. Chez says:

    Beautifully written. You have changed my entire perspective on how I will remember the happenings of the day and many of the days and weeks that followed.

    You wrote, "Responders entering those towers on 9/11 were not American. They were human. They did not help other Americans, they helped people." I feel the same every single day about human life. I wish more of the people in the world felt the same and acted the same.

    Thank you for putting your life in danger to help others.


  33. Roger says:

    911 has touched us all!
    Responders have learned a lot about the pyhroclastic dust and the following health issues.
    We need to understand the devastation and open a investigation to better understand what happened that day.
    The responders need to protect them selves from such detrimental air born dust to beable to continue helping others long after such tragedies.
    We all need to educate our selves and learn and give thanks to all who gave so much!