Thursday, September 11, 2008


It has become an iconic vision: two towers, sometimes just one, smoke and dust billowing out of holes gaping in the sides. There are some views that have a blurred aeroplane entering the frame, but most do not.

There are video versions, usually showing the surreal, almost slow-motion collapse of a once-mighty building.

Often these iconic images are accompanied. The still photos given headlines: "Bastards!", "Terror!", "Infamy!", "Why?!"

The video images have music. Dramatic music, or patriotic music, or sad music.

The World Trade Centre is the symbol of the murderous attack upon the United States that fateful day.

A powerful symbol, don't get me wrong.

However, the World Trade Centre was a building -- or buildings, if you want to be more precise. For all that it has become a symbol, it was -- it is -- still only a building.

There is no mother's love for a building. No one carries a building under their heart for nine months. And though we say that we care for buildings, when it come right down to it, there are none who would replace their children, their flesh-and-blood, for the concrete and steel of a building.

For me, the symbol of 11SEP2001 is not the burning World Trade Centre. The iconic image of that fateful day is not the collapse of hundreds of tons of concrete and steel and wood.

To me, what defines the horror of that day is a brief video clip taken by an unknown news crew. After all this time, I'm not even sure if the video clip in my memory still matches what I actually saw on the television that day.

But this short series of images is my truth of September 11, 2001.

It is a video shot of the burning towers, and in the background, a woman's voice is commenting, rambling, trying to deal with the absurdity of a terror attack on US soil. Something in the screen catches her eye, and she begins to describe the debris thrown out of the building by the aeroplane's impact. Office supplies, I seem to remember her stating, as the camera zooms in on something falling.

Only ... it isn't office supplies.

It is a man. I remember that he is dressed in a light coloured shirt, and dark pants, but no jacket. I remember the detached, monster part of my brain noting that he hadn't bothered to take off his tie.

He's tumbling as he falls, arms and legs flailing at the air in absolute panic stricken terror; the lady narrating suddenly realizes what she's looking at, and gasps, "Oh, my God."

And he still falls -- because he has hundreds of feet left to go before he hits the hard, uncaring asphalt.

Hundreds of feet left to think whatever thoughts he's going to think before he dies. And he knows he's going to die.

We don't see him hit, because the cameraman snaps his lens, his electronic witness, back to the floors where the red and orange flames lick hungrily through the windows, and just before the video feed ends, I hear a voice -- too strangled to know if it belongs to a man or a woman -- say, "They're jumping."

Maybe this isn't as palatable an icon as the Twin Towers. Maybe it's too messy, too violent, too evil for our sanitized, 30-minute Hollywood world.

But it is the reality of what happened that day. Innocent people going about their mundane, everyday lives were viciously and savagely slaughtered by a pack of sociopathic misfits.

Let us not forget that mother's children were butchered by the thousands on this day seven years ago.

Let us not forget that the evil that allows men -- convinces men -- to commit such acts of slaughter is not only still among us ... but in some places this evil is celebrated; in some places this evil is tolerated; in some places this evil is forgiven.

Let us not forget that while buildings
fell -- human beings, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, loved ones -- died.

Above all, let us simply not forget.



Orion said...

Well, LawDog, the image you describe - there are many like it if you hunt for them - will never become an icon because the folks running the media won't show them.

See, that might upset folks and make them want to hunt down everyone even peripherally responsible for those events. That might make them realize that there is evil in the world that needs to be dealt with.

That would be bad for their friends.

Instead, you'll hear all about how we have to talk with them and understand them and above all, stop killing them.

Instead, you'll hear about how it's time to come home and how it was a mistake to go after them in the first place as though George Bush personally decided to invade two countries because he was bored.

So, no images of people jumping their deaths. No clips of those left behind. No, no - that wouldn't be nuanced.


George said...

I remember being in NYC that day. A colleague's wife worked across the street in World Financial Center, and she described the scene of dozens of people jumping. It wasn't until I got home later that I saw the video. I still wonder what went through their minds...was it a last, desperate hope that maybe somehow they would survive? Or did they jump knowing the end was here, and they chose quick over slow?

BooMN said...

Last night I watched a special on the History Channel with 102 minutes of real-time photograhy and commentary of that morning and it was so very moving. Then, I tuned into the local news (mistake). In the first 10 minutes, which is all that I watched, there was no mention at all of the significance of the day. Shamefull.

Jay G said...

The bodies. That's the one thing I remember most.

The sound they made when they hit the pavement. The news crews, not quite understanding what the sound was, continuing their coverage.

And then the shock as the reality hit home - that people were flinging themselves out of the building.

People that were trapped, facing the prospect of burning to death, and chose the faster method.

People that lost hope.

People that faced reality.

Thanks for remembering, LawDog.

C. S. P. Schofield said...

Never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by stupidity.

It isn't that the MSM gets together and CONSPIRES to avoid images of 9/11/2001, or the bestial behavior of radical muslims around the world. It's that they cannot grasp it. It doesn't fit anywhere in their world; a world where Socialism works and they - the anointed - are divinely chosen by Providence to guide those who are less enlightened (that's us).

They reacted the same way to the news from the killing fields. To the revelation that Stalin was a monster whose body count dwarfed Hitler's. They cannot deal with the information that so contradicts their world-view, so they blank it out of their minds and unconsciously try to blank it out of the world.

They lack the intelligence to handle world as complicated as the real one - hence the way they fall for Marxism, a belief totally unsuited to the complex modern world - and they lack the moral strength to face the consequences of their past behavior. The mass graves. The misery. Acknowledging these would break them, which is why the become so hysterical when confronted.

They are pathetic intellectual dwarfs and moral lightweights. The proper response to them is not anger but impatient contempt. Certainly they must not be allowed to run the country.

LL said...

Those people jumping is the one major thing that has scarred my mom and given her nightmares and gave her a touch of PTSD after the event. She told me that she was running for the river (she can't swim but she thought if she needed to, she could get in the water to protect herself) and then she saw the people jumping. She said she froze in horror and screamed and screamed at the falling people until her friend grabbed her arm and dragged her away to the Staten Island ferry terminal so they could get off Manhattan.

I'll never forget her face when she told me about that day.

JimB said...

I was working in my switchroom when a coworked on the phone with his wife said the WTC had been hit by a plane. I'm on the 12th floor of a building 7 blocks north of the WTC. Ran to the onle window in the office expecting to see a small plane had hit. Saw a huge outline of a large aircraft in the side of the North Tower. As I stood their watching the horrible site a second plane hit the South tower from the other side. I could feel the shock wave thru the glass. Went down to the street. Saw smoke pouring from both towers and people starting to jump. Tried to call my wife to let her know I was ok but the cells were jammed. Started to walk north as she works at Hunter College at 68th St in Manhattan. I work at 60 Hudson St down town. Got to Canal Street just in time to watch the towers fall. People in the street looking south and crying. Others just standing there stunned. No panic. Took over an hour to get to 68th st. My wife says I've changed since 9/11... I wonder why.

Diamond Mair said...

Michelle Malkin remembers, LawDog ..................

Semper Fi'

Anonymous said...

For me it's the firefighters rushing into the buildings. Somehow the overall death toll didn't make me cry, but the number of firefighters (and police, Lawdog) and the fact that they were going in and up chokes me up.

Brandon said...

I remember him, too. I don't want to; I wish I could erase that awful image from my brain. But if I could, I don't know that I would, because it would be wrong to simply forget him and those many, many others who suffered along with him that day.

Anonymous said...

My vision of that day, permanently etched on my brain, is of a black man, very well dressed in a tan suit and dull orange shirt, falling headfirst forever against a background of smoke, almost obscuring a wonderfully beautiful, peaceful blue sky.
Also etched on my brain is an interview with a couple who simply didn't care about anything but getting back to their residence in TriBeCa. They wanted to know what "we'd done wrong" and she said, "I just want things to go back the way they were."
I can't think of anything, in contrast to that tragically falling man, that would have infuriated me more.
It still does.

knitalot3 said...

I remember the man you described.

What I remember most are all the rescue workers, many of which were not on duty, that ran towards the site.

I won't forget, ever.

armedandsafe said...

Mine is of the woman, lying on her back, hands folded in her lap, as she falls to the ground.

I think her apparent serenity and calm in her acceptance of her death said something to me. She knew she was going to die in the next few minutes, but decided she still had a choice. She made her decision as to her manner of death, rather than giving in to the panic which must have been raging all about her.


Michael said...

I remember the people falling, the utter helplessness and nausea those images brought. I remember Palestinians smiling and dancing in the streets too. I will never forget – the horror or our enemies celebrating.

Anonymous said...

And Americans are even CONSIDERING voting in as President a man raised under Moslem influence for the first ten years of his life?
There's something very wrong here.

Oldsmoblogger said...

What I remember most is a street-level news video of dozens or hundreds of firefighters, putting on their gear as they walked up the street toward the towers.

AlisonH said...

Thank you. We all know. So many use the towers as code for the pain while trying to avoid looking full at it, but that pain cries out to be honestly seen. Thank you for seeing.

(My brother and cousin were some of the lucky ones in Manhattan that day who got to return home. Far too many parents of the highschoolers my sister-in-law taught were not.)

Anonymous said...

I worked just off Wall St - I remember walking home to Midtown. I walked along the river as well just in case. And watched fighter jets scream above me as I walked down 5th Ave to get home. Never would have imagined that happening in my wildest dreams. The memory of emergency services walking towards the danger as the rest of us streamed away will always stick with me.

Charlesc said...

I watched a firefighter, loaded with gear - walking into the cloud of dust and debris. Clueless newsy says, "Why are you going in there?" Fireman says, "That's my job".

May God bless those who walk into harms way on our behalf.

Gerald said...

nor forgive...

Joseph said...

The MSM did not and will not make a stir about those photos of people jumping to they're deaths...too "graphic",too "shocking", etc.

Unfortunetly, that is what really happened. Real life is like that sometimes...bloody, violent, graphic and shocking. And sometimes it happens to you.

Joseph said...

And to charlesc,

To quote a line from the Coast Guard,

"You have to go out. You don't have to come back"

Anyone in emergency services (EMS, Fire Dept, Police Dept) knows this.

Michael said...

Many pieces remember the people falling, however Tom Junod did it the best. Everyone else is just riffing off him.

Jeff Miller said...

Foe me, what stands out was a blog by a nurse who was ton site, providing support for the rescue workers, 72 hours after the event. The workers would come in just long enough to drink coffee, maybe eat something, before going back in to search for people.

They were also getting their feet bandaged since they were wearing holes in their feet.

Maureen said...

I don't think it was a loss of hope. It wasn't really a choice people had, to jump or not. It was hot, and humans instinctively jump away when things get too hot. They weren't committing suicide; they were reacting the way they were designed to do, except there wasn't anything underneath them.

May God be good to those poor murdered people.

Old NFO said...

Well said LD, and thanks for remembering.

Firehand said...

I don't think the coverage I saw showed the people falling; I'd remember it if they did.

One thing I remember, some moronic talking head finally said something about 'striking terror into the land' for about the fifth or sixth time and I was on my feet screaming "What about the PISSED OFF it's struck into the hearts of America you @!*#)()(**&?!?"

And that the media will show American troops in the worst light, but don't want to show the people falling and such... stupidity or malice, it pisses me off, too.

Ibrow said...

Terrorism - to strike terror into the every day lives of ordinary people.
Fortunately they are being dealt with by some 'uncommon people' who have seen all the horror that it entails, and are prepared to demonstrate the moral fiber to get the job done.
Support your military - and never ever forget - the biggest sin here is to loose the memory of what happened. Good people lost their lives - it should not be a waste; what it should do is motivate us to make sure - by fair means (we are the good guys - we don't kill children or innocents) that these people are removed - permanently. Then our world will be a better place to live in. Vigilance and honor, and split blood are the price of safety. Lets just make it theirs not ours any more.

rebecca said...



What is pink? A rose is pink

By the fountain's brink.


What is red? A poppy's red

In its barley bed.


What is blue? The sky is blue

Where the clouds float thro'.


What is white? A swan is white

Sailing in the light.


What is yellow? Pears are yellow,

Rich and ripe and mellow.


What is green? The grass is green,

With small flowers between.


What is violet? Clouds are violet

In the summer twilight.


What is orange? Why, an orange,

Just an orange!

---------- by maple story account

Anonymous said...

What the hell does Rebecca think this blog is? Kindergarten class?
Maybe she's touting a book of very bad poetry?
Totally nonsensical and inappropriate.

TheBronze said...

"You have to go out. You don't have to come back"

Joseph, I'd never heard that before, but so true.

I'm sorry I missed this post now, but I was keeping a low-pro then.

whamprod said...

A friend of mine was working in the World Financial Tower, across the street from the WTC, when the first plane went in. He led an evacuation of people on his floor (the 34th floor) down the stairs to the street. As he came out onto the sidewalk, he looked up in time to see the second plane hit. Eventually, he fled, along with thousands of others, up the West Side Highway, looking for a means of getting across the river into Jersey. But before he did, he personally saw the people jumping and falling, and he says he'll never forget the horrendous sound of their bodies smacking into the pavement with such terrific force.

That some people want us to forget that is an abomination.

3KillerBs said...

The image of the day that sticks in my mind isn't visual at all, its a sound.

They edit that sound out of many of the documentaries and I'd almost come to believe I imagined it -- except that I clearly remember asking my DH what it was and him telling me, with a catch in his throat, what I ought to have known.

When I remember 9-11, I hear the shrill, scream of the firefighters' man down alarms.