In yesterdays post, I linked to some rather disturbing audio of two victims of the attack on the World Trade Center nine years ago during their last moments on earth. I also posted a picture that’s come to be known as “The Falling Man”, depicting one of those many WTC victims who choose to exit the building on their own terms rather than wait for the fate that they knew was coming. The photographer behind The Falling Man, Richard Drew, was initially criticized for snapping that one second in The Falling Man’s life as he was approaching his death. Newspapers were also under fire for running the photo, so therefore it ran only once in most papers here in the United States. I never came across it myself until a year ago, and found it shocking and disturbing. Even so, I see it as another memorial to those who died, much like the memorial wall above at Ground Zero. The photo above was taken on my last visit there in July 2006, so I don’t know whether or not it still stands. The construction of a permanent memorial and towers is still a work in progress, as is the memorial in Shanksville, PA for the passengers and crew of Flight 93. To the best of my knowledge, the memorial to the Pentagon victims is the only one that’s been completed. These things take time, I suppose, but it’s important that they get done. Memorials serve not just to pay tribute to those who passed away, but they’re important for the living. As September 11, 2001 gets further and further in the past, we need to be reminded, at least once a year of what happened and what those people went through. Not just the people whose last dramatic moments were caught on film or audio tape, but everybody who was lost: the rescue workers, who walked up into the towers, as others were going down towards safety—and life. The passengers on the 3 flights that flew into the towers and into the Pentagon who never knew what was happening. The passengers on Flight 93 who did know, and decided to do something about it. The workers at the Pentagon who were taken in an instant as they sat at their desks… and those people who’ve since passed away from illnesses caused by working among the debris at Ground Zero. All of these deserve to be remembered, today and always.
**Note: The images and audio linked in this post will be upsetting. They’re not meant to be sensational or disrespectful, only to help all of us to never forget.**
Tomorrow marks the 9th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on American soil. A year ago, I started this blog with the posting “Things to Remember on 9-11”. In the years since that horrible day, much has been written about, spoken of, argued over, etc. when it comes to the events of September 11, 2001 and why they happened. Sometimes it seems that the real people that were affected—those whose lives were lost and the people who love them—get brushed to the side. Even now, images of the attack come along less and less as the always-parental media (who know what’s best for us) refuse to replay or reprint them, for fear of upsetting anyone or of being politically incorrect.
That’s not the case here. Truth lives, and sometimes it hurts. We can try to bury it in the past, but we can’t ever let ourselves forget what really happened…and what really did happen that day? Put yourself in some other shoes…
Suppose you were a tourist hoping to get an early start on seeing all the sights of New York, or maybe you are a local on your way to work. The day is beautiful and calm until the first plane strikes the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Not long after, another plane strikes the South Tower. Shock and fear surround you as the chaos unfolds. As you watch people running—and jumping—from the two skyscrapers, you wonder why this is happening and when it will end.
Inside the building, those who managed to escape later described what was going on as “surreal” and “hellish”. You definitely get that feeling when you listen to the 9-11 calls of those trapped above the points of impact. Kevin Cosgrove’s last moments of life have been heard and remembered by people who never met him, as were those of Melissa Doi. Both of their 9-11 calls have been edited together here. Mr. Cosgrove, trapped on the 105th floor of the South Tower is last heard exclaiming, “Oh, God!”, as the tower begins to come down above him.
No less compelling are the terrified pleas of Ms. Doi to the 9-11 operator, asking if anyone was coming to help them on the 83rd floor. Trying to keep her calm, the operator tries repeatedly to reassure her as she asks, “I’m going to die aren’t I?” Ms. Doi also describes the unbearable heat and the heavy smoke that caused many office workers to jump some 1200 feet to their deaths to avoid being incinerated.
This above photo, known as “The Falling Man” became famous around the world. Most papers ran it only once, resulting in much criticism from their readers. The Associated Press photographer who took the picture, Richard Drew, expressed his feelings towards the critics by saying, “I didn’t capture this person’s death. I captured part of his life. This is what he decided to do, and I think I preserved that.” Drew explained in an interview that 9-11 was more than just the crumbling of the buildings. It was about the people. Nine years later, the identity of this man is still uncertain, but in his death, he’s become a symbol of the horrendous choice many of those in the towers were forced to make that day.
- Photo by Susan Meiselas/ Magnum Photos
**PLEASE CHECK BACK FOR PART 2 POSTING TOMORROW AFTERNOON***