Combs Spouts Off

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Posts Tagged ‘9/11’

The story of The Falling Man

Posted by Richard on September 11, 2019

it was, to my mind, the most horrifying, gut-wrenching part of a horrific day: perhaps as many as 200 or more people plunging to their deaths at 150 miles per hour because that was better than the fate that awaited them if they stayed in the upper floors of the World Trade Center North Tower.

There was one iconic photo, taken by AP’s Richard Drew, that quickly became famous and then quickly disappeared. Hundreds of newspapers published it once, and many readers expressed outrage. It was just too horrifying, too painful; it was exploitative; this man had a family! All the photos and videos of people falling to their deaths disappeared. People don’t want to see them, to be reminded of what happened. It’s too disturbing.

And yet, I think we should see them. Those of us who watched at the time should be reminded. Those who didn’t, those who are too young to have witnessed that day, should know—and feel—what it was like.

Three years ago, Esquire published Tom Junod’s The Falling Man. It tells the story of that picture and its photographer. It shows that picture and others. It explores why this part of our history has been erased. It recounts the efforts to identify The Falling Man and suggests who he most likely was. It’s a long and grim read. I urge you to read the whole thing.

They began jumping not long after the first plane hit the North Tower, not long after the fire started. They kept jumping until the tower fell. They jumped through windows already broken and then, later, through windows they broke themselves. They jumped to escape the smoke and the fire; they jumped when the ceilings fell and the floors collapsed; they jumped just to breathe once more before they died. They jumped continually, from all four sides of the building, and from all floors above and around the building’s fatal wound. They jumped from the offices of Marsh & McLennan, the insurance company; from the offices of Cantor Fitzgerald, the bond-trading company; from Windows on the World, the restaurant on the 106th and 107th floors—the top. For more than an hour and a half, they streamed from the building, one after another, consecutively rather than en masse, as if each individual required the sight of another individual jumping before mustering the courage to jump himself or herself. One photograph, taken at a distance, shows people jumping in perfect sequence, like parachutists, forming an arc composed of three plummeting people, evenly spaced. Indeed, there were reports that some tried parachuting, before the force generated by their fall ripped the drapes, the tablecloths, the desperately gathered fabric, from their hands. They were all, obviously, very much alive on their way down, and their way down lasted an approximate count of ten seconds. They were all, obviously, not just killed when they landed but destroyed, in body though not, one prays, in soul.

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Eighteen years ago today

Posted by Richard on September 11, 2019

Eighteen years ago this morning, in the words of Rep. Ilhan Omar, “some people did something.”

On September 11, 2001, barbarians with box cutters — primitive 7th-century savages who could never build a World Trade Center or a 747, but whose insane ideology is dedicated to making the building of such things impossible — murdered 2,996 innocent people and changed Lower Manhattan from this:

Lady Liberty watching over the twin towers before 9/11

to this:

1st tower falls

Fleeing as the tower falls

Fleeing through the choking dust

Falling to his death

Never forget.

Flag still stands

Never forget.

raising the flag at ground zero

Never, ever forget.

9/11 tribute of light

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