I was going to post a picture here in my blog but decided that it might be better to just go ahead and post a link to it. The reason I am posting a link instead of the actual -photo is not so much due to copyright as it is due to sensitivities. While I am sure many people will be able to view it, I am also sure many people will not want to look at it because it would be too much for them to bear. You see, it is a picture of a man, on 9/11, who either fell or jumped from 1 WTC. I like to think, as hopeless as his situation may have been, that this man, if not actually the man in the story below, thought like him and defied the hopelessness of the situation and tried to fly on the wings of an eagle. Be advised the picture is heart wrenching.
http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2011/09/911-the-day-of-the-attacks/100143/#img12 (Please note that this may or may not bring you directly to the pic, it may bring you to a page of various pictures, if so, scroll down to number 12.)
To me, the pic to which I have just supplied the link is as striking, if not much more so, than the picture titled 'The Falling Man'. Much has been made of 'The Falling Man' photo because of the symmetry of the man with the tower in font of which he was falling and because of the almost casual, resigned, appearance of the man at the moment the photo was snapped and because it took awhile to identify that man and because at first, he was misidentified as someone other than who he actually was and that caused one family a lot of grief because they knew there husband/father would never resign himself the way it was amde out the falling man had done so. It is a sad and hopeless, a man seemingly almost resigned to dying and in a peaceful state or so it seems at the exact moment the photo was taken and at the exact same moment we want it to seem that way to us. It makes me choke up and makes me cry when I think of the poor man in it.
I see something else in the pic to which I just supplied the link. It is very different than that of 'The Falling Man' even though I believe both were taken by the same photographer. The symmetry with the building is not there. There is no resignation in the form of the man. Maybe it is just me but I see overwhelming hope. I see a photograph of a man, whom I would like to believe, thought he still had a chance no matter how hopeless the situation. I see a man fighting to live. I see a man who decided to not go gentle into that good night, I see a man rage, rage against the dying of the light. I see helplessness and hopelessness and I see hope and determination shining through no matter the odds and no matter the virtually inevitable outcome, and I see the wings of an eagle.
I see a man, maybe the exact man, who was described to me by a coworker. My coworker saw several people come down but there was one whose actions, as he described, whom I will never forget. I met my coworker late in the day, on 9/11/2001, at our office at JFK Airport. He was covered with gray dusty powder. His eyes were wide open and I do mean wide, it was obvious he was in shock. He looked terrified. I tried to help. We got to talking and he described what he had seen. He had tried to get into 1 WTC (the North Tower), to try to get people out, via the courtyard. He was trying to help and was thrust into a sate of utter helplessness. You see, it was then, he heard a loud thumping noise and he turned in the direction of the sound but could not determine what made the sound though he said it was eerie. He also described the sound in another way - as a loud plop. Then, out of the corner of his eye he saw something, it was a person, falling, passing through his peripheral vision in a flash, from just above his head level, into the ground with that same noise accompanying the meeting of concrete and flesh.
My coworker was aghast with fear and overtaken with helplessness. Yet, as he looked up to see others hanging on the side of the building or out of broken windows, he tried to yell to them not to jump. He knew there was no way they could hear him and then another jumped while he was yelling for them not to do it. According to my coworker, the man did not fall, he jumped - maybe because the flames were licking his skin, maybe because the smoke was suffocating him, maybe out of hope that somehow he would survive the fall. As he neared the ground he was spread eagle, like a skydiver, and he began to do something that could only have been done out of hope despite the hopelessness of it all. That poor man began to flap his arms repeatedly as if they were wings. My coworker's gaze followed him, tried to give him the power of flight, flew with him, soared with him, hoped with him, all the way to the ground. Then as quickly as it had begun, it was over for that man and my coworker was scarred for life.
I do not know if this is actually a picture of that man, the exact same person as seen by my coworker, but it is a picture of a man who almost does appear to by flying, to be soaring through the air, and it is the picture of a man who undoubtedly met his death after either falling or jumping from the North Tower (1 WTC), a man who did not go gentle into that good night, a man who raged, raged against the dying of the light!
(It has been 10 years since I heard my coworker tell his story about that man. I don't even know if he ever told anyone else, such as a counselor as I suggested he should do. I hope he did tell it to others, I hope he has come to peace with himself. I could tell, even on that first day, he blamed himself somehow even though he was no way at fault. As for the story, I hope I got it right, I did the best I can working on memory and took no deliberate license with it. I told it just as I recall him telling it to me. I did that not just for him but for the man whose story he told.)
All the best,
Gee, Doesn't this Sound Familiar?
1 hour ago