This video is difficult to watch. It’s a beautiful homage to those that jumped from the Twin Towers on 9/11 and pierces the heart deeply. Way down where emotions from that time are twitching and the sadness, horror and rage still raw as if it just happened yesterday.
It’s done respectfully though and I show it because I feel the soft filter of time is slowly displacing the sheer horror of what occurred, which, for me anyway, somehow disrespects the dead and leaves us vulnerable for a repeat attack.
As the narrator states, there were no suicides that day, only murders. The intense heat (steel was changing shape remember) and thick, black smoke must have been unbearable, as it forced an estimated 200 people to face an unimaginable and desperate choice; stay and surely be burned alive, or jump to certain death from 90 floors above. For a gripping account of this, read this USA Today story from 2002.
It’s these images of the falling bodies, those poor souls heading downward at 150 mph and fully conscious for 10 terrifying seconds before they left this world that pretty much encapsulates all the awfulness of September 11, 2001 for me.
In all, close to 3,000 lives were taken at the World Trade Center, including 343 firefighters and paramedics, 60 NYC and Port Authority Police Officers and numerous others from later illnesses caused by the massive amounts of dust and debris that saturated the air around Ground Zero.
It’s hard to overstate the devastation; of loved ones suddenly gone forever, dreams never fulfilled, families permanently shattered. Harder still to understand why.
Yet, we need to, or at the very least ,we must never forget the evilness that these attacks sprung from and that this same evil from 14 yeas ago still very much resides today. It’s obviously raging within ISIS who routinely decapitates the innocent, or executes children by crucifixion as an example because they were not properly fasting during Ramadan.
Boko Haram too, while not as large and organized as ISIS is certainly just as evil with their brutal pillaging of Northern Nigeria and routine kidnapping and raping of young girls
Beheadings, sex slavery, crucifixions, forced drownings, burying children alive, torture; all are considered crimes against humanity and are happening routinely and with greater expediency, as these groups take over more land mass.
Call it, ISIS, ISIL, al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hezbollah, Islamic Revolutionary Guards Quds force, or whatever, they all share this same rotten core of evilness and must be addressed. It’s a vast force, totalitarian and viciously cruel and growing daily. Every bit as bad and dangerous, if not more so, than what we faced on 9/11, and it must be reckoned with and soon, before it comes here.
Yet, I wonder and worry more than a bit. Having ensconced ourselves in a “lead from behind” policy for several years, does the U.S. even have the will to confront such evil and obliterate it? Are we even aware it exists?
We tiptoe around the obvious, that the common thread here is Islamofascism, a word many in our government can’t even bring themselves to say, let alone strategize against. How does that play out? Not so well I fear.
This Friday, as we reflect on the events of 9/11, honor our dead and recall the numerous heroic acts that took place, let’s also remember those still nameless jumpers and the extraordinary circumstances they faced.
It’s uncomfortable to think about what they went through and to ponder what our own choice would have been had it been us. The discomfort is necessary and good, for it helps put meaning behind those words “never forget” and why we say them. That’s our only chance really in preventing it from ever happening again.
As Thornton Wilder once said, “The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude,” and so I thank each and every one of you who died that awful day. Your death sounded the alarm so that we may live. The least we can do is tell your story.