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The Falling Man

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Esquire said:
The Falling Man

Do you remember this photograph? In the United States, people have taken pains to banish it from the record of September 11, 2001. The story behind it, though, and the search for the man pictured in it, are our most intimate connection to the horror of that day.

fallingman-lg.jpg

In the picture, he departs from this earth like an arrow. Although he has not chosen his fate, he appears to have, in his last instants of life, embraced it. If he were not falling, he might very well be flying. He appears relaxed, hurtling through the air. He appears comfortable in the grip of unimaginable motion. He does not appear intimidated by gravity's divine suction or by what awaits him. His arms are by his side, only slightly outriggered. His left leg is bent at the knee, almost casually. His white shirt, or jacket, or frock, is billowing free of his black pants. His black high-tops are still on his feet. In all the other pictures, the people who did what he did -- who jumped -- appear to be struggling against horrific discrepancies of scale. They are made puny by the backdrop of the towers, which loom like colossi, and then by the event itself. Some of them are shirtless; their shoes fly off as they flail and fall; they look confused, as though trying to swim down the side of a mountain. The man in the picture, by contrast, is perfectly vertical, and so is in accord with the lines of the buildings behind him. He splits them, bisects them: Everything to the left of him in the picture is the North Tower; everything to the right, the South. Though oblivious to the geometric balance he has achieved, he is the essential element in the creation of a new flag, a banner composed entirely of steel bars shining in the sun. Some people who look at the picture see stoicism, willpower, a portrait of resignation; others see something else -- something discordant and therefore terrible: freedom. There is something almost rebellious in the man's posture, as though once faced with the inevitability of death, he decided to get on with it; as though he were a missile, a spear, bent on attaining his own end. He is, fifteen seconds past 9:41 a.m. EST, the moment the picture is taken, in the clutches of pure physics, accelerating at a rate of thirty-two feet per second squared. He will soon be traveling at upwards of 150 miles per hour, and he is upside down. In the picture, he is frozen; in his life outside the frame, he drops and keeps dropping until he disappears.

[...]
The entire article is a fascinating read. It's also a trip back to the day, nine years ago, when it happened.
 

DrunkenAsparagus

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I remember seeing that man on the front page of the paper the day after the attack. I was eight at the time, and I couldn't see all of the significance of it at the time. Looking back on it, I can see World had become a very different place that Tuesday.
 

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I remember seeing that man on the front page of the paper the day after the attack. I was eight at the time, and I couldn't see all of the significance of it at the time. Looking back on it, I can see World had become a very different place that Tuesday.
oh my goodness, you're still a baby. indeed, our world changed.
 

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I remember seeing that man on the front page of the paper the day after the attack. I was eight at the time, and I couldn't see all of the significance of it at the time. Looking back on it, I can see World had become a very different place that Tuesday.
I was in grad school at the time, so I could at least have a taste of the significance. I remember walking around in a kind of daze. Everyone else was, too.
 

Catz Part Deux

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I was at work. They sent us home. I remember driving to pick up my kids from school, and I was listening to the reports on the radio, and crying. At a stoplight, I looked at people in the cars beside me, and they were crying, too.

I remember trying to explain it to my daughter. She was 8. Thankfully, my son was only 4, so he barely remembers it.

That year was so weird...National Guard guys in our airport with assault weapons...my company instituted protocols to screen our mail for anthrax. We had new travel protocols: No more than 2-3 people from the same unit could fly on the same flight, we were discouraged from using public transportation.

Several of my co-workers were stranded out of town for several days after 9/11, including my boss. He kept calling us from St. Louis, driving us crazy, because he couldn't get a rental car or a flight. He was so stir-crazy.

I remember traveling to DC in October, 2001, the day we started our offensive in Afghanistan, and people on the flight were crying.

That year, in January, 2002, I got stranded in the Atlanta airport because of a snowstorm. People were so nice to each other. It was almost like everyone was thinking, "Well, this sucks, but it could be so much worse, couldn't it?"

I got a life insurance policy and did my will that year since I have to fly all the time. I wanted to make sure my kids were protected.

In some ways, that day changed me, and I have never really been quite the same since.
 
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DrunkenAsparagus

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I was in grad school at the time, so I could at least have a taste of the significance. I remember walking around in a kind of daze. Everyone else was, too.
I remember that day almost perfectly, a mild, sunny Tuesday, not a cloud in the sky. Our teacher told us about it at the end of the day. Everyone was real shocked. One girl's dad worked in Lower Manhattan; fortunately he was fine. I went home and remember seeing the same footage playing over and over again. I just walked around my house in circles, also in a daze, for what must've been two hours. I remember vaguely hearing about a US warship getting bombed the year before, but I didn't really understand. 9-11 was what got me to pay at least some attention to the news
 
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I was at school. They announced it over the loudspeaker and nobody really knew what it was all about or why they were telling us and sending us home. Nobody seemed to care. My mom showed up at school and I had no idea why. She told me my dad was okay and I was like "wtf are you talking about". My dad was on a plane heading to New York or something and my mom thought I'd be worried that he was on one of the planes or something I guess. Then I went home and was mad that my mom didn't let me leave the house to go skateboard because the cops would be in crisis mode and she didn't want me to get arrested or something. I tried watching TV but it was on all the channels. That day was pretty boring.
 
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Catz Part Deux

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I was at school. They announced it over the loudspeaker and nobody really knew what it was all about or why they were telling us and sending us home. Nobody seemed to care. My mom showed up at school and I had no idea why. She told me my dad was okay and I was like "wtf are you talking about". My dad was on a plane heading to New York or something and my mom thought I'd be worried that he was on one of the planes or something I guess. Then I went home and was mad that my mom didn't let me leave the house to go skateboard because the cops would be in crisis mode and she didn't want me to get arrested or something. I tried watching TV but it was on all the channels. That day was pretty boring.
This probably reads pretty close to how my daughter would describe 9/11.
 
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