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Friday, September 11, 2009

We will never forget.

It was the most photographed and videotaped day in history. Everyone has their own personal set of images and memories from that day. I have so many. I remember all of the paper. The sheets falling slowly down from the towers. Blowing and twirling on the ground. Close up and out of context, there was something about those faxes and memos and files and letters that was maybe even benign. The paper was almost ethereal, like love notes or to do lists or messages left for the living. But when the cameras panned out and the view was widened to include the destruction and the smoke and the fires, the images became evidence of all that had been destroyed.

I also remember watching the interviews with people who were very literally searching the streets for their loved ones. Some sobbed uncontrollably as they begged for help while others were calm and collected. They were eerily poised and composed as they described what their best friend, or cousin or child may have been doing in the towers at the time of the attack, but many were quick to outline the reasons why they may not have actually been at the scene, despite the fact that they had not heard from them in the minutes, hours, days since they had their coffee and their breakfast, kissed them goodbye and walked out the door. I remember wondering if they were trying to convince the viewers or trying to convince themselves that there was still hope. I remembering crying as I watched those interviews. I remember crying harder when I listened to the voicemails left for wives, husbands, children, friends of those who knew that they would never escape the towers or the planes.

But mostly, I remember the images of the falling bodies. Falling from the windows, crawling down the sides of the buildings until they inevitably lost their grip and began to plummet. I remember the horror I felt when I, when we all, first realized that people were jumping. The towers were no longer just buildings. In those moments the reality that they housed thousands and thousands of living, breathing people became terribly evident. People that were so desperate to escape the flames and the smoke that they made the decision to embrace a different death. A quicker, less painful death in which they would be allowed a few last breaths of fresh air. Some people look calm and willing, others appear to flail and fight, their clothes and shoes flying off as they fall at rates over 150 miles an hour. They didn't make a sound. The soundtrack was instead provided by the people on the streets, the screamed prayers of onlookers, the gasping and panting of those recording their falls, the ever present sirens. A stark and ironic contrast to the silent detachment of those actually falling. By the end of that morning, over 200 people had jumped or fallen to their deaths. For me, each image is as intense and moving and distressing as the next. I won't exploit those people by posting their photos here. I'm sure that we've all seen them and we will never forget.

5 comments:

Marian said...

May we never forget 9/11 and those people that gave up their lives for the lives of others.

chicncheap said...

Eloquently put Teresa!

Kristen Sara said...

I can't even imagine what it would have been like to be in NY on that day... no matter where we were, though, it is a day that I know none us will ever, ever forget.

Amanda K said...

We will never forget...

I ♥ NY said...

thanks for your beautiful words!