Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Falling Man

Most of us have seen the following picture, of the man falling from the burning towers, poised in an upside down plunge. Writers have opined many things regarding that falling man. Most feel he was plunging as victim toward his chosen death. None I've read have bothered--once it was established that the man in the photo is Norberto Hernandez, assistant chef in the Windows On The World restaurant--to pose the notion I'm about to offer:

When Norberto chose to plummet from the inferno, he likely had only the choice to be burned alive or die instantly from a fall of more than a thousand feet. That jump was no small, cowardly act. He chose to end his life his way, not in victimhood. All of that has been conjectured by journalists since the photograph burst upon the cosnciousness of the world. But ...

But the one thing people have either missed or forgotten to notice is that Norberto is looking down! Why would a man watch the rushing, looming, deadly ground as he is about to be crushed by the impact at more than 150 miles an hour? I happen to believe it is because Norberto cared about others. Perhaps he believed he could change his fall just enough at the end to avoid killing an innocent person on the ground.

Norberto Hernandez had the wondrous grace in his last moments to want to avoid hurting anyone else on this day of evil rising. He should be remembered for his grace, the grace of a free man trying even in his last moment of life to avoid harming any other fellow human being.

We can ignore that Norberto probably misunderstood the physics of his fall, that at his rate of descent he could not have avoided hitting something he would gain only a momentary glimpse of, rushing toward someone. His intention is much more relevant.

We must never forget that evil was able to slaughter our fellow American citizens. But let's also never forget, some of the people murdered by the terrorist scum had mountains more grace than the rabid Islamics who even on this day celebrate the murders.

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From Wikipedia: "Five years after the attacks, Jonathan Briley, a 43-year-old employee of the Windows on the World restaurant was identified by chef Michael Lomonaco as The Falling Man. Briley was a sound engineer who lived outside of Manhattan, in Mount Vernon, and worked in the North Tower restaurant. According to the documentary he was also identified by his brother in the morgue by his orange t-shirt and shoes. Lomonaco claims that he was able to identify Briley by his clothes and body-type. In one of the pictures, The Falling Man's clothes were blown away, revealing an orange undershirt similar to the shirt that Briley wore to work almost every day. His sister, Gwendolyn, asserted he was wearing that shirt on the day of the attack. She told reporters of The Sunday Mirror, "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.'" A charity has been set up for Briley's family, and many news programs have aired his story as being the one of The Falling Man. However, the identity of The Falling Man has never been officially confirmed."

In the photo, The Falling Man is looking down. I choose to believe it is because this man was trying to avoid harming any other soul in his last moment of life on this planet.

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