10 years later, We Need to Face the ‘Falling Man’ Image
I will never forget 9/11 as I stood, then sank to my knees as my heart exploded in my chest. I was in my living room with my husband, my aunt & my uncle. My baby girl was wandering around innocently, instinctively settling on my lap as we stood transfixed to the live coverage. We all screamed when we saw the souls jump to their death. We hugged and hugged, but nothing made it go away. Seeing the people jump was, by far, the worst images I had ever seen in my life. I, too, could hardly watch it and I still shake when I replay them through my mind. Almost immediately, rage consumed the American street and the need for war, if necessary, was instantly validated. The extreme patriotism of the following week rallied my heart as the country spontaneously hung American flags from their doorposts. I couldn’t find a full size flag at any store. Total strangers talked to total strangers in stores. We were all ready for revenge. We were all ready for war. As we should have been.
The human toll, so wonderfully shown in this documentary tells the story better than any other I have seen. It tells why we went to war. Not oil. Not power. Plain and simple: it was justice and revenge. And it was justified.
When the image of what is now called, “The Falling Man” was published on 9/12, I was confused. I knew people were enraged- called it sensationalism. Part of me felt the same way, but mostly, I just couldn’t look at them. The other part of me knew that it was important to publish the full atrocity of the day. Whatever you may have believed then, it is time to reconsider and to face it now. I have come to believe that our youngsters have not been taught the full meaning of that day- the human meaning. The human story. Schools don’t show the people leaping from the windows and they don’t say who attacked us (Arabic, Islamic extremists). They don’t show the infamous video of that Egyptian living room where the father goes wild with elation as the planes hit the towers, pumping the air with his fists.* They don’t relate the importance of the religious/cultural element of the attack. They don’t let the children see the true human suffering. Children are the future of this nation. If they do not see the actual footage, if we allow people to simply air-brush the jumpers from the school images, these children will never understand the reason for our wars in Afghanistan or Iraq. Neither will they understand current relations in the Middle East. For the good or for the bad.
Almost ten years later, I found this video. It focuses almost exclusively on the one story America wanted so desperately to forget from that day: the story of the jumpers. This film is painful. After I write this blog, I am going to bed to escape it for awhile in sleep. But I absolutely will never forget it. We, as Americans who were there to see it happening live, need to see this now. Especially now as the Middle East roils in unrest. We are finally ready.
* I am absolutely astounded that this video can not be found anywhere. What is going on?? It is, however, referred to by Osama bin Laden’s group in this transcript of bin Laden’s video: http://peoplesalmanac.info/top-al-qaeda-spokesman-spoke-warmly-of-those-who-exploded-with-joy-over-911-as-though-it-were-a-soccer-game For such an iconic video to have simply disappeared is devilishly suspicious. anyone know anything about it? In any case, there are others such as this one: http://youtu.be/6WptpG_yVUI