Never Forget…Not Just One Day a Year.

Never Forget….You hear it so often that it starts to become more of a slogan than words with meaning. Sometimes we say it, write it, tattoo it but not really remember the true meaning of “Never Forget” and what it represents.

Every year I remember September 11th 2001 and the 343 men that died doing their job that day. Do I only remember once a year? Not a chance. However I specifically take that day each year, to reflect on the men who died and how I remember. The way I Never Forget comes in a few different variations.

If I am off duty I take part in the annual stair climb at the Qwest building in Downtown Denver.  I, along with my crew and hundreds of others, bring all of our gear and hike the 55 floors of the building twice to accomplish the 110 stories of the towers. This is a very personal way to Never Forget. You are assigned a picture of one of the men that died, it has their name and company to which they were assigned. The meaning becomes more powerful when you put a face to the number,  you begin think about them when your legs become unsteady and breathing becomes more difficult. Mentally it makes you stronger than you ever would be while hiking those stairs any other day.  For me personally I have no excuse to think about the pain, the fatigue, or the doubt (of finishing) that may cross my mind.  For a short hour I feel fatigue that is only the smallest fraction of what they must have felt. I hike in conditions that are perfect compared to those stairwells, and the only thing that I realize is that I do not have the slightest clue of what it was like to be one of them.

That’s what is great about remembering them in this fashion, it humbles you which gives you respect. It brings fatigue and stress which lets you remember physically and it brings emotion by having you climb for a specific man who died that day. Thank you to those that organize these climbs across the nation, you are living up to our vow.

If I am scheduled for duty I don’t take a trade to do these other events.  I feel honored to work that day and have my own way of remembering. For me it is a good reset button, a day to forget any of the politics, or parts of our job that bring us down. A day to forget the things that don’t matter and focus on the very basics, culture and tradition of our trade. To think about the word brotherhood that is so commonly thrown around without the action that it takes to support it. What  can you do to make yourself and the others on your crew better, and how can you support them.  Ask yourself if you are combat ready, if you do not who will? Without these questions and actions, we will become complacent. To me this is honoring and remembering what they lost their lives for. They were center stage that day representing the entire American Fire Service, and they put on a perfect show. They accomplished the greatest interior search and removal of citizens that has ever been done. All of this while knowing this could be their last march up a stairwell, and not hesitating because of the belief in our core mission of removing people from harms way. By remembering them, I challenge myself  to try and be a good tradesman for my small part of the Fire Service.  

The discouraging part about these beliefs is the realization that  I will take grief and some ridicule for believing in them. Why would I say that? Because it already happens. Either verbally or through actions towards me it is usually made clear who does not believe in representing or remembering our fallen in this way or supporting the culture of brotherhood. This only makes me more thankful to those that have mentored me through their actions and taught me why it is important that we remember our fallen, focus on our basics, and protect the important culture of our trade.

I will be flying out to NYC tonight to remember 9-11 and the 343 in a different way this year. This is my ramblings on what remembering does and means to me. What does it mean for you?

Never Forget

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3 Comments on “Never Forget…Not Just One Day a Year.”

  1. Les Chapel Says:

    Thanks for your dedication and the words written here. Well said.

  2. Brian Says:

    I was not in the fire service that horrible day, but my mother was in EMS. My brother had just joined the local volunteer company, and I had every interest in doing the same. Several years later, when I was of age, I joined. I took as much training as I could, but still had no concept of what truly happened on 9/11. My senior year of high school, I went to New York City, and took a stroll to Ground Zero. There was still an unbelievable amount or twisted steel and rubble, and it humbled me like I could never have imagined. I had only been to New York once while the towers were still standing, but this truly opened my eyes. That day I swore to myself that I would never take my freedoms for granted, and I would make a difference for our great, great country. About 18 months later, I enlisted in the Air Force, and I am set to deploy to the Middle East (again) late this year. I am anxious, but I feel more courage and humility than most every man or woman that will be there, because of that stroll my senior year. While I did not know any of the 343 that perished personally, I feel like I knew every one of them, for this brotherhood is exactly that – a BROTHERhood. We are all brothers, even though we may bicker and argue, we are all brothers and will do anything to help or protect them. I take this “life lesson” with me to the Air Force, and that is what gives me the courage to go back again.

    Godspeed, 343, and every member of the armed service that has made the ultimate sacrifice, whether it be trying to protect a city, or a country.


  3. […] have spoke about this specific topic before, the last time was on 9-11 and had the same title (Never Forget, Not Just One Day A Year). What do these fires mean to us? We say Never Forget right? Well for those of us who were not […]


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