The Fall

falling man

We all, I assume, have seen this picture and all recognize the steal beams and reflective windows in the background to be that of the World Trade Center. It was posted by news outlets and is regarded as the most famous picture captured of 911. I believe it’s interesting because, obviously, it shows a man who chose to jump, rather than face the fire, inside the World Trade Center. It was taken by a photographer who was assigned to shoot a fashion show before news broke of what had happened. The man photographed is still unidentified and his body was unlikely ever found, but he could’ve been anyone, I believe that’s why it is so famous. It could’ve been a father, a son, a business man, a temp, or it could have been you. Looking at this photo makes you truly come to grips with the atrocity of 911. We all hold on to hope until the end, but so many chose to jump because they had lost all their hope in survival, and that is tragically inconsolable. Those who jumped had to look out at the sea of smoke and building below them, maybe they could see people below, firefighters that were there to save them, and they had to come to the realization that they would never be saved, that they were going to die and they could do nothing about it. I don’t think any of us could truly consider that situation. We truly can’t fully understand never existing anymore, we know were going to die, and maybe we think about it a lot, but we still, in some way, think we are invincible. He had to realize that he wasn’t, that there would be no happy ending, no rescue, and he had to jump in order to avoid the suffering. This photograph moves me so much because it shows the pain caused during that day. Over 200 jumped, while hundreds of onlookers, and thousands watching on tv, had to see them fall, while having no way of saving them. Some onlookers were even hit and killed by victims who had chosen to jump. But, we don’t see it as a man taking his life, we see it as a man coming to terms with the fact that he is going to die, and deciding that he’d rather jump into the freedom of the open air, then die amidst the flames and smoke. This picture is so moving because it makes us question what we would have done in his situation. Never forget.

Faye Metcalf

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