Do you remember the Falling Man photo taken on 9/11? Of course you do, if you were alive then and old enough to absorb the news and what was happening, you could not forget this image. It’s stunning how it jars you instantly back 20 years and how quickly the familiar raw emotions of anger and grief pop up.
Time has softened the sharp edges around those emotions though and transformed them to a more reflective stance on the preciousness of life and nostalgia for a more innocent time of national unity, when we truly were all in this together.
Esquire Magazine has a beautiful article about the Falling Man written by Tom Junod. It tells the moments leading up to photographer Richard Drews taking the iconic shot and the lengths to which investigative news reporter Peter Cheney went to find out the man’s identity, which even today remains unknown.
Of course there were many unfortunate people that also jumped from the Twin Towers that day, which was widely reported on at first. This sparked a weird and uniquely American phenomenon, in that it became taboo to talk about these poor souls. It was considered a slur against them, that highlighting their choice to jump out the window to certain death instead of being incinerated by extreme heat and fire was somehow a poor reflection on their character.
I don’t view it that way at all. I posted this picture because to me it perfectly captures both the awful, ugly horror of that day, along with the divine beauty of a man who has accepted his fate and chooses, courageously in my view, to exit this earth by his own standards. Pure grace in action.
So that is my September 11 memorial post for this year. May God bless the 9/11 victims, their loved ones and all of those who made the ultimate sacrifice hunting down justice and defending our freedoms.