Is This the Forgotten Side of Aurora? A Firefighter’s Sacrifice.

Via Tom Grasso (Gyandeva)
on Jul 25, 2012
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Photo: Fire Rescue 1

Firefighter-EMT died shielding girlfriend in Colorado theater shooting

As a firefighter, I get to work next to—and assist—some of the most amazing human beings I have ever met.  And while I never met Jonathan Blunk, I’ve met hundreds, if not thousands, of men and women just like him. It’s why most of us in Emergency Services shy away from the word “hero.” We know so many of them.

He saved his girlfriend’s life. He shielded her, he protected her. And he died for her.

Many of us would do the same thing for someone we love. Yet, how many of us would do this for someone we don’t even know? I know many who would and some who have. I’ve lost friends and acquaintances—brothers and sisters who simply wanted to help another human being in their greatest time of need.

Jonathan’s girlfriend, Jansen Young, summed it up quite nicely.

Young said Blunk would have taken a bullet for anyone in the theater Friday.

You know, the nearest person sitting next to him, he would have been like, “This person needs my help now.” That’s just who he was and everybody knew it.

Yes, that’s just who he was and everybody knew it. Even those who have never met him. He’s part of an amazing brotherhood of sinners and saints who want nothing more than to save you. To help you. To be there when you need them the most.

You did us proud, my brother, and may you rest in peace having shown the greatness of Love in the most trying times of fear.

May we have the courage, the ability and the discipline to do the same when called upon to act.

Be humbled, my friends, because greatness like this doesn’t always shine from the darkness. If it did, we’d all be firefighters, policeman, EMTs and in the military. I remain in awe of those I serve with, and of those who have paved the way before me.

So, while we get caught up in the mundane but necessary political debate over ways to keep us all safe, simple men and women are doing remarkable things to get us there. In my experience, tragedy happens in order that we may bring the best out of ourselves and in each other. Perhaps we need to focus on that “best of ourselves” in order to best honor those who have shown us the best of themselves. Maybe we need to focus a little more on the hero and a little less on the monster.


~ Editor: Lynn Hasselberger

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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.  


31 Responses to “Is This the Forgotten Side of Aurora? A Firefighter’s Sacrifice.”

  1. @Yogalody says:

    Amazing!!!! Thank you

  2. tom rapsas says:

    Nice, inspiring post, Tom. There is good and there is evil in this world and sometimes they brush up against one another. Our focus should always be on the good. ~Tom

  3. The ultimate irony is that Jamie Rorhrs fled the scene and drove away leaving his girlfriend, 4 year old daughter, and 3 month old son to fend for themselves. They were saved by a STRANGER named Jarell Brooks. Jamie Rohrs will get to see his children grow.

    Jon Blunk also had a four year old. As well as a two year old. Jon Blunk died saving his girlfriend. Leaving behind his estranged wife and two kids who will grow up without a father because of his heroism.

    Somehow, this seems so twisted and unfair.

  4. yogasamurai says:

    Of the two genders, it's men who are far more capable and willing to display physical bravery, and to sacrifice our bodies for others – it's an instinctive heroism that we are hard wired for. The only exception for women might be with their own children, because, to a large extent, women see their children as a simple extension of themselves.

    When was the last time you saw a woman rush into a burning building to save someone?

    This is one of the many magical and mystical qualities of being a man. It's a deep and powerful male archetype. And of course, a huge moral force on behalf of society as a whole.

    (if you're a radical feminist, just consider it one of the "perks" of patriarchy! It's amazing how many there are, though.)

    Namaste! YS

  5. Mamaste says:

    Peace my friend, and thank you for all you do.


  6. yogasamurai says:

    I believe the "scoundrel" showed up at the hospital, apologized, proposed marriage, and she accepted? Isn't that what happened?

    Remember Saving Private Ryan? All those men,including the noble Tom Hanks, sacrifice their lives just to save the third of the Ryan boys, in accordance with military law.

    "Much is expected from those to whom much has been given." It applies to all us, I think. In this case, they all lived? Who knows, maybe there was a higher wisdom at play in this "escape."

  7. tomgrasso says:

    You are welcome! 🙂

  8. tomgrasso says:

    We only know the good because of the "bad". It's all Divinely perfect IMHO!

  9. tomgrasso says:

    I don't judge someone for running away in those circumstances. Otherwise, every time I saw someone running OUT of a burning building as I am running into it I'd judge them similarly. The point isn't to judge others who act "less" than we would desire, it is simply to honor those who rise to the occasion. I choose to focus on Jonathan's sacrifice rather than someone else catering to their sense of survival.

    But that's just me…

  10. tomgrasso says:

    YS, I've served with several woman who have rushed into burning buildings to save others. The one thing about them I will tell you that I love is that those women don't carry the macho bullsh*t around with them…and that usually means they make good, safe decisions.

    Hope you understand…

  11. tomgrasso says:

    Same to you ~S…


  12. yogasamurai says:

    Of course, it was their job, right? I would expect nothing less. I know some brave female soldiers, too. These are the exceptions that prove the general rule. A very small part of the general population. It's what you do when it's not your job that I was referring to. There are men who are just fabulous nurses, too. Many thanks.

  13. yogasamurai says:

    It's all good. Actually, there were at least three young men who died doing exactly the same thing in the Aurora theater, protecting their mates? The other two weren't firefighters, though. These were beautiful men – but then again, that's how men are. I don't begrudge anybody anything. I do think, though, that someone should have tackled the guy.

  14. Normally, I don't think being 'judgy' in this situation is appropriate. However, Mr. Rohrs made the media circuit telling his story and opening up his actions to scrutiny. Had he just driven off and back, collected his family, and moved on with his life then I don't think anyone would be judging his actions. Where he went wrong after ditching his family (he left his firancee, 4 year old and 4 month old in the theater and drove off) was all of the interviews. Not to mention having that aged children in the theater to begin with.

    However, my point was not so much to trash him (there are plenty of places to do that) rather to point out how doing the heroic thing cost one set of kids their father while doing the opposite allowed another set to still have theirs. I'm not having an easy time finding the fairness in that. It's contrary to everything we've been taught about doing the right thing. The anti-hero ended up with the reward, life.

  15. Mamaste says:

    Just intro'd on FB: Main Page.
    Again, thanks to all of the heroes.

  16. tomgrasso says:

    In some respects it was their "job", but they were volunteer firefighters yogasamurai. It became their "job" out of the goodness of their hearts, the fierceness of their character, and the common bond that unites all of us in the "service." So, perhaps it makes some sense here to understand that it is what they do when it is not their "job" (all volunteers respond as they want when they want) because they only come when called. They MAKE it their "job" voluntarily, which makes their efforts even more remarkable.

    There is a reason we call it the "fire service" and not the "fire business". It is not a "job" to any of us regardless of whether or not we get a paycheck doing it. The women I have known in the fire service are people I would follow or lead anywhere. While I do sometimes question their ability to get me out of harm's way should I need them, it is not about their gender but rather about their physical strength. I do the same for male firefighters who don't look like they can handle the task physically.

  17. tomgrasso says:

    It's a good contrast for sure. Maybe we all can learn from it?

  18. Ramon says:

    Tom — Great post, but I especially appreciate your thoughtful replies to the comments. THANK YOU.

  19. tomgrasso says:

    Peace, Ramon, and thank you…

  20. yogasamurai says:

    He also ended up with the shame, and the need to set a better example. Maybe he will lead a more exemplary life from here on out. Maybe the father who died will set a powerful example for his children to follow. It's hard to know about these things, I think. You're assuming the existence of a human system of rewards and penalties in an unknowable universe not under our control?

    By the way, the wife was presumably fully present in the decision to take their children to the movies? That was a mother's decision also – and based on what? Sheer convenience? Economics (save on baby-sitter)? What were any of those people doing with their children at that movie?

    Maybe the lesson is, if you insist on going to a piece of shit violent cartoon movie, you increase your risk of mayhem.

  21. Tracy says:

    I couldn't disagree more heartily and I am disgusted by your comment. I'm not sure what kind of women you've been around, but by your comment, it's probably what you deserved.

  22. Tracy says:

    Beautiful and important post, Tom. All of it. This fact, as difficult as it is to process, " In my experience, tragedy happens in order that we may bring the best out of ourselves and in each other." is true as well. I've called tragedy a necessary part of our tenuous balance and I think that its opposite reaction is the reason that is so.
    Of course, it also begs the question: if we had better balance, might we "need" less tragedy. There's no way of knowing that just yet, but in the meantime, every time I learn of a tragedy, I look immediately for the blessings.
    Thank you.

  23. tomgrasso says:

    To me, the lesson is a far deeper one than you see.

    Perhaps the lesson is that we have choices in our lives. In this discussion, we can either choose to perpetuate the negative energy that may have led up to this tragedy, or we can replace it with something positive. I choose to replace it with something positive.

    Our own individual choices are the only things we can truly control. We cannot effectively control the behaviors of others (which is why I believe gun control laws and most laws that try to control behaviors fail) but we can control OURSELVES. Therefore, I choose to use my energy in what I see is a wise way, and that is in controlling my own behaviors, actions, attitudes and practices rather than waste it trying to change yours, theirs or anyone else.

    I may share my opinions, but not as a method of control, but as a method of gaining wisdom. It's a pretty straightforward approach.

  24. Tracy says:

    One last question, how can you sign off "Namaste" when it is obvious that you do not see or respect or honor my soul?

  25. tomgrasso says:

    Thank you so much Tracy.

    We may see less tragedy because we stop seeing it as "tragic". When we stop seeing death as a negative, for example, is it really "tragic" when someone dies? I see the real tragedy as unmitigated suffering in the world. If suffering is truly an opportunity for the good in humanity to rise to me it becomes tragic when it fails to do so. Tragedy remains in the unanswered suffering of living humans, not in those souls who have left us and moved onward.

    After all, the world only changes when we begin to see if differently, no?

  26. Tracy says:

    Yes, yes and yes!
    Death is not a tragedy, though it is tragic to those of us left behind. My writer's soul believes in reincarnation. How else can we hope to learn all the wisdom life holds? In that light, death is a chance to start fresh with infinite possibilities. I have believed this way for as long as I can remember.
    To go a bit further, I remember watching a movie (can't even remember the name) about reincarnation and the twist of the plot came from the fact that the man and woman were born to the opposite gender in their next life. It made a huge impact on me and after much contemplation, I believe that our souls would have to live as both human men and women in order to gain the most wisdom. Again, it could just be my writer's imagination, but the implications are significant.
    And, yes, Tom! The world DOES change when we see it differently. As someone with such thoughts, I am eternally grateful for the way that the internet has brought so many people together. It's not easy finding "local" agreement to many of these heartfelt beliefs.

  27. tomgrasso says:

    The internet makes us all "normal" doesn't it? 🙂

    Oddly enough, I see our attitudes becoming more and more "the norm". It makes me SMILE 🙂

  28. yogasamurai says:

    I think the distress here is all yours. I always speak my truth. Many of the women say they do here, too. Our truths don't always overlap. Celebrating men's incredible virtues isn't popular at EJ. The fact that you consider my celebration an affront – or that it's somehow your "soul" that is centrally at stake, I have one too – is something you might want to examine? This is feminist narcissism.

  29. yogasamurai says:

    Many, many women, includng the one that I am engaged to. Who is the man in your life?

  30. yogasamurai says:

    Archetypes are archetypes, and they are powerful and usually manifest differently in the two genders. There is no need to always apologize for women in an area that men might excel. We don't apologize for men when we celebrate women. I am just taking note of somehting that is actually fairly obvious to most people, I think.

    Does that mean women are always wimps, and men are alwasy heroic? Of course not. It's always a danger when we generalize about supposedly inherent female and male "natures" — but it's extremely popular among some women to do so these days, usually to their own advantage. Let's just say I am bending the stick back a bit towards the middle where it belongs. Holding up a mirror. Men are awesome, women are, too. Ladies, repeat after me? Otherwise forfeit your claim to the moral high ground.

    A possible topic for future discussion is why the Divine Goddess concept – which has become an embarrassing obsession in American yoga circles – doesn't include more discussion of bravery, honor and heroism. In the Hindu tradition, Shakti has a fierce warrior like nature that is known as "Durga." She's her alter-ego . Durga is not the one who lies around looking cute or posing and shaking her Lulu butt in yoga class. Why do we never hear about her. There's a reason.

    She is celebrated in India, though – not here. I dare say most of the women on here have never even heard of her?

    Yes Namaste.

  31. Tracy says:

    I have no issue with your celebration of men. I love men and celebrate them as well. However, your statement:
    "Of the two genders, it's men who are far more capable and willing to display physical bravery, and to sacrifice our bodies for others – it's an instinctive heroism that we are hard wired for. The only exception for women might be with their own children, because, to a large extent, women see their children as a simple extension of themselves."
    was not merely a celebration of men, but a grave insult to women. Then, when reminded of heroic women, you went so far as to say "it was their job" and to call them anomalies.
    Women, as a group, do not lack in heroism. My daughter (16) and I do not lack in heroism. It is insult for you to claim it as so.
    Had I said the opposite about men, I'd venture to guess that you would be deeply insulted as well.