The Falling Man

911 was twenty years ago. I’m trying to let that sink in. 911 was twenty years ago. We all have our memories of that day. Many examples of exactly where I was and what I was doing. Much like when the Kennedy’s and Martin Luther King were killed, the Challenger, John Lennon and the eerie Payne Stewart’s ghost flight with the iced over windows and no sign of life. They will be forever etched in your mind.

Then there was 911. Planes hitting the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Flight 93 crashing in the Pennsylvania countryside. Images you can never forget. The phone call to loved ones on board of the doomed flights. We have all seen the pictures and heard the recordings.

There was always one picture that I can say has haunted me somewhat to this day. Every year during this time I look for it. Do you remember this photograph? For some reason people have taken pains to banish it from the record of September 11, 2001. The photograph was denounced as coldblooded, ghoulish and sadistic. Then it just vanished. To me it just shows the magnitude of the horror of that day. He was known only by, “The Falling Man.” That was it. I don’t recall anyone ever saying his name. To this day no one is certain who “The Falling Man” was. He has never been identified.

Over the years almost hypnotically I have found myself staring at this picture and thinking about him. He is upside down, but he makes no effort to right himself. The bend of his legs makes him look like he is running. What was he thinking to come the conclusion that he made. What was his other thoughts? I have tried to imagine the desperation of the situation, the panic he must have endured, the dire choices he had to make, the best of which was jumping out of a skyscraper and plunging to your death. “The Falling Man” was one of many who fell to their deaths twenty years ago. I cannot fathom the terror that went through the minds of those that had to endure that agonizing decision on that day.

So twenty years later here we are. A country divided. I find myself wondering how we as Americans would respond if a similar attack took place.

The twentieth anniversary of 911 this year will be very powerful. I can only hope pray we can put away our red vs blue, our vax vs not vaxed, Democrat vs Republican and just for one day come together and pray for a better country, a better world, to be a better people so there never has to be another picture like this.

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