[guest post by Dana]
It’s hard to believe that it was 19 years ago today that 3,000 innocent Americans were killed by radical Islamic terrorists. It’s strange, but I’m pretty certain that everyone remembers exactly what they were doing when they heard the news. And I think the vast majority of us, upon hearing it, went through a succession of reactions to varying degrees and rates of speed: shock, disbelief, denial. Finally, when the bizarre and horrible reality flooded our guts and made it impossible to avoid looking it straight in the eye, we accepted it. With that, I’m posting the opening to the hauntingly eloquent essay, The Falling Man because it’s a powerful reminder about the fragility of life, the physical finality of death, courage and desperation, and ultimately, the complicated soul of humanity. In other words, it’s about something we should, indeed, never forget:
In the picture, he departs from this earth like an arrow. Although he has not chosen his fate, he appears to have, in his last instants of life, embraced it. If he were not falling, he might very well be flying. He appears relaxed, hurtling through the air. He appears comfortable in the grip of unimaginable motion. He does not appear intimidated by gravity’s divine suction or by what awaits him. His arms are by his side, only slightly outriggered. His left leg is bent at the knee, almost casually. His white shirt, or jacket, or frock, is billowing free of his black pants. His black high-tops are still on his feet. In all the other pictures, the people who did what he did—who jumped—appear to be struggling against horrific discrepancies of scale. They are made puny by the backdrop of the towers, which loom like colossi, and then by the event itself. Some of them are shirtless; their shoes fly off as they flail and fall; they look confused, as though trying to swim down the side of a mountain. The man in the picture, by contrast, is perfectly vertical, and so is in accord with the lines of the buildings behind him. He splits them, bisects them: Everything to the left of him in the picture is the North Tower; everything to the right, the South. Though oblivious to the geometric balance he has achieved, he is the essential element in the creation of a new flag, a banner composed entirely of steel bars shining in the sun. Some people who look at the picture see stoicism, willpower, a portrait of resignation; others see something else—something discordant and therefore terrible: freedom. There is something almost rebellious in the man’s posture, as though once faced with the inevitability of death, he decided to get on with it; as though he were a missile, a spear, bent on attaining his own end. He is, fifteen seconds past 9:41 a.m. EST, the moment the picture is taken, in the clutches of pure physics, accelerating at a rate of thirty-two feet per second squared. He will soon be traveling at upwards of 150 miles per hour, and he is upside down. In the picture, he is frozen; in his life outside the frame, he drops and keeps dropping until he disappears.
Related: We are reminded that the masterminds behind 9/11 still have not been tried for their crimes:
The case’s progress came to almost a complete halt amid the pandemic due to travel and quarantine restrictions on the Caribbean island. The war court permits the five alleged 9/11 plotters to meet with their lawyers only face to face and not by phone or video conference. No hearings have been held since late February, and the trial, which had been slated to begin Jan. 11, 2021, has been postponed for a few months, if not longer, raising questions of whether jury selection will even begin before the 20th anniversary.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, dubbed “KSM” and described as “the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks” in the 9/11 Commission Report, was a close ally of Osama bin Laden and will be on trial alongside his nephew, Ammar al Baluchi, alleged hijacking trainer Walid bin Attash, facilitator Ramzi bin al Shibh, and al Qaeda money man Mustafa al Hawsawi.
Air Force Col. Shane Cohen, who had sent the January 2021 trial date, added to delays when he announced in March that he was retiring from the military and was thus leaving the case after presiding over it for less than a year. Cohen had taken over for Air Force Col. Vance Spath, whose undisclosed conflicts of interest led an appeals court to toss out many of his rulings.
“Our client, this nation, deserves a reckoning,” prosecutor Edward Ryan told the court last July in pushing for a trial, but the reckoning is yet delayed
You can read more about it here.