What do you remember the most about September 11, 2001? Were you one of the millions of people frozen in front of their television, watching it unfold? Which images kept you awake at night?
For me, it was the people. The people falling from the buildings, like broken dolls. But they weren’t dolls, they were real people.
We turned our television on just after the second plane hit, and I don’t remember moving away from it for hours. Maybe days. The images were horrific; the plane hitting, the buildings burning and collapsing, people running. And the huge cloud of debris that seemed to take over the world, like some science fiction movie. And in a way it was like a movie, because we’ve all seen things in movies that were as bad, or worse.
But the people! Standing at the edge, looking down, seeing what? Stepping out, into what? To me those are the gut-wrenching images that I see in my mind. Human beings pushed to the absolute edge, facing death, choosing how it should come.
We saw those pictures that day, and maybe a day or two after, and then they disappeared. At least here in America it was decided that they were too sensitive to show us. Too personal. And that they are. But isn’t that what we need? It was personal – don’t ever think it wasn’t! And it needs to stay personal, because it isn’t over, not by a long shot. This ideology of hate is centuries old and crosses all boundaries. The faces and names change, but the hate is always there. And apathy, our apathy, is one of it’s biggest weapons.
The families of the people who died in those buildings that day are understandably affected by the images, even more than the rest of us. To some of them the thought that their loved one would take such a step is unthinkable, cowardly even. I strongly disagree with this. To me, this was just as brave a thing to do as what the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 did. We shouldn’t hide those pictures; we should keep them out for generations to see. Hiding them is what is cowardly.
The smart people have determined that it took about ten seconds to fall. Set your timer for that and see how long it is. Plenty of time to say “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit”.