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09\11\01 "The Falling Man"

posted 9/10/2007 5:14:12 PM |
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tagged: falling man
  dridge

Unfortunatly this is the image that most shocked and saddend me, that reduced me to tears. That I'll never be able to erase from my mind.IT is one of the most chilling images to emerge from the horror that has become, simply, 9/11. Against the steel-and-glass background of the World Trade Center, a man falls headlong 1,300ft to the street below.

While pictures of the Twin Towers billowing smoke and flames will remain the most enduring image of the terrorist attacks, this one man's dying moments somehow humanise the toll of New York's darkest day.

And yet, as famous as the image is, the man's identity has remained a mystery. Until now.

Five years after the horror of September 11, 2001, the falling man has finally been identified as Jonathan Briley, a 43-year-old who worked in a restaurant at the top of the north tower.

Over the years, his family has always assumed he perished in the building. Now, learning he had jumped is almost too much to bear.

His father, Alexander, a Baptist minister, has still not come to terms with the manner of his son's dying. "I can't talk about it," he says. "My life's work is telling people that they have to go on after tragedy, but I can't do it for myself."

Jonathan's elder sister, Gwendolyn, says: "When I first looked at the picture... and I saw it was a man - tall, slim - I said, 'If I didn't know any better, that could be Jonathan'.

"I never thought of the Falling Man as Jonathan. I thought of him as a man that just took his life in his hands for just one second.

"Did that person have so much faith that he knew that God would catch him - or was he so afraid to experience the end?"

On the day he died, Jonathan had kissed his wife Hillary goodbye before making the 20-mile journey from his home in Mount Vernon to Manhattan where he worked in the Windows On The World restaurant as a sound engineer.

That morning, the restaurant was holding a breakfast for 16 members of the Waters Financial Technology Congress, and 71 other guests.

At 8.45am, less than an hour after Jonathan arrived for work, American Airlines Flight 11 slammed into the north tower.

The impact sliced through floors 93 to 99, killing hundreds, immediately creating a 1,000C inferno as the plane's fuel ignited.

The fireball was so intense that people in the building's lobby were burned as the flames shot down the lift shafts.

But it was the 1,000 people trapped on floors 100 to 107 who were unluckiest. With the lift shafts severed and staircases blocked by rubble, fire and choking smoke, there was no escape.

With the air becoming unbreath-able, desperate staff and diners began smashing windows. And it was in those final moments that Jonathan, an asthmatic, must have made his dreadful decision...

If we don't know what went through Jonathan's mind then, we do know the last desperate thoughts of others who decided they would take fate into their own hands.

Eighteen minutes after the first plane struck, the second plane hit the south tower, trapping another 600 people.

"In some ways it might just be the last element of control... something you can do. To be out of the smoke and the heat, to be out in the air, it must have felt like flying."

Official estimates of how many people leapt from the buildings vary from 50 to 200.

US writer Tom Junod says: "Between seven and eight per cent of those who died in New York City on September 11, 2001, died by jumping out of the buildings.

"If we consider only the north tower, where the vast majority of jumpers came from, the ratio is one in six." Photographer Richard Drew, 54, had trained his I lens on the north tower and begun filming the jumpers. "You could hear them," he says. "It was a big thud, like the sound of sacks of cement hitting the ground."

When he returned to the Associated Press bureau, a sequence of 12 shots stood out.

THEY caught a man, seemingly calm, plunging to his inevitable death.

The picture was published around the world, causing widespread revulsion, as if merely looking at them was to intrude upon a moment of private agony. After September 12, the picture was rarely shown again, but Tom Junod couldn't get the image out of his head and spent years trying to discover the identity of the Falling Man.
It was executive chef Michael Lomonaco who finally solved the mystery.
"Jonathan fitted the body type, the skin colour, and it left the door open for a possibility that it was really Jonathan," Lomonaco says.
But as Gwendolyn says: "It's not about trying to find out who he is, but what his death says to all of us." And what it says is ... never again.
Jonathan BrileyThen the rage
at this image:

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Comments:

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ynot7769

Sep 10 @ 6:40PM  
NUKE EM ALL
zena343

Sep 10 @ 6:43PM  
What a bleak imagine that is, just knowing that every person you see in this pic is now dead!! How utterly horrific!! I remember that morning like it was yesterday, walking through the emerg department at work with everyone glued to the tv. I remember hearing the news saying about the first plane and as I stopped to look, the second plane was coming in and hit the second tower. You could have heard a pin drop in that room that was so packed with people watching. Can't describe the feelings that run through you at that moment, and the days and weeks that followed. Not much work was done that day, I think everyone was running off to watch CNN

Kudo's dridge
loveableone

Sep 10 @ 7:13PM  
So horrific! No words can express how these images and memories affect each person. Kudo for sharing one of many tragic stories.
hornytoad55

Sep 10 @ 7:29PM  
As Zena said this is a horrendous image. This picture should burn into the head and heart of every American. We should look into the faces of these people and feel the fear that was inflicted on fellow Americans. This kind of aggression will never be tolerated in this country.
Great blog Dridge I will give you my first Kudo to give away.
lori478

Sep 10 @ 9:01PM  
Thank you for remembering I lost a family member who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald they lost 650 some odd employees that day Now the governments fund is still trying to pay a small fraction of what they should get by law.
I also had an uncle who was in the command center before the first tower came down he still describes the loud booms of the bodies hitting over head and how they kept coming every 15 to 30 seconds or so and the sick feeling in the pit of his stomach over each one knowing what the where

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09\11\01 "The Falling Man"