Today marks the 15th anniversary of September 11, 2001. As usual, the stories and broadcasts of that day are being shown on television.
It’s a time for reflection and the underlying message, spoken and inferred, is to hug your children and tell your family members that you love them…because we never know when something might happen.
It is becoming more and more difficult for me to watch these recounts because I don’t have a husband or family members or children to hug anymore but I will watch them until I no longer can.
I watched a special titled “The Falling Man.” A videographer captured a man falling from one of the towers. It was a ten second descent that was going to end his life in a most gruesome way.
Only a handful of newspapers ran the picture the next day. There was the expected response from readers, which was absolute outrage.
Why did it cause such outrage? It was a reality of what happened that day. Perhaps for some, it made it too real.
During the height of the Iraqi war, a marine was dragged through the street, hung from a bridge and set on fire. Loser grappled with the decision of whether or not to run the picture. His belief was that people needed to know what was happening over there.
George Bush wouldn’t allow pictures or videos of the soldiers being brought home. The numbers of the dead were released but numbers are just numbers. When you couple those numbers with flag-draped caskets, those numbers have an entirely different impact.
Loser decided to run the picture albeit inside and with a strong warning on the front page. Like the falling man, the reaction was thunderous. It was just too real.
I saw the picture of the marine and it took my breath away, even though I thought I was prepared for what I was going to see. It was sickening.
Loser asked me what I thought and I said “it’s one of the most horrific things I have ever seen but if it was my son, I would want everybody to know what happened to my little boy.”
I don’t defend yellow journalism but I do defend freedom of the press. There are still a few journalists and editors out there in that dying industry, who believe we have a right to know the truth…the truth about terrorism, the truth about war and the truth about the devastating results.
The picture of the falling man has never been run again. An effort to identify him was met with great resistance, although it is believed that they now know his name.
Nobody knows if he jumped or fell. We know that there were hundreds who suffered the same fate. We know that there were people on the airplanes who struck the towers, the pentagon and drove into the ground in Pennsylvania. We know there were people inside the towers when they collapsed. We know there were hundreds of firefighters who died, trying to save lives.
We have heard their names read aloud. We have seen them on the memorial. Again, those are names.
When you attach a name to an image, I think it becomes too painful. I believe that’s why there is such difficulty when we see the faces in the very instant when those people lost or were losing their lives, such as the marine or the falling man.
There were multiple requests to Loser to print pictures of the devil that apparently showed up in the smoke as the towers fell. There was no outrage over those pictures…only requests to re-run them.
Would you want to know if the falling man was your loved one? Would I want to know? Yes, I would. I think it would give me closure. I could mourn the loss without the perennial hope that some day, through some miracle, he might come walking through the door.
When I was looking at the still shot of the falling man, it flashed through my mind “at the very moment that picture was taken, he was still alive.”
Let’s remember that day. Let’s remember those lives that were lost. If you have family members, hug them…call them…tell them how you feel….because you never know when they or you….might be gone.