The event that left the whole world mourning and the photograph which left the whole world wondering- who is the falling man? From different speculations to the journey of finding the truth, the falling man is a mystery that remains unsolved and yet made history.
On the 11th of September, 2001, a tragic attack happened at the twin towers of the world trade center. The attack was reported as an airplane hijack, a suicide attack, and a mass murder, as per the sources the attack was planned by a terrorist group called “the al-Qaida”. The attack reportedly happened through an air crash. First, an airplane crashed into the north tower and a few minutes later another plane crashed the south tower, blowing off the buildings as the fire began to spread, people inside it were trapped and hence they started to jump. As per the reports, almost 2606 people were killed inside the world trade center and 200 people were believed to have fallen or jumped.
The fallen man was one of them. It is a photograph of a man falling from the north tower and it was captured by an associated press photographer: “Richard Drew”. The photograph was taken at 9:41 am a few minutes after the accident. Drew at that moment was shooting pregnant models during which he got a call from his editor informing him about the crash. He immediately packed his equipment, hurried through the subway, when he reached there, the towers were burning and people were dying and some were already dead. He examined the area, he saw what was going on and then suddenly he heard people gasping as the workers and the people who were stuck in there were jumping from the building. He recalled shooting through a 20mm lens. He was standing between an officer and a fireman, and every time one of them said,” there goes another one” he started clicking photographs, as they fell down. He was able to get 9 to 12 shot sequences of about 10 to 15 people until he moved to the north tower- where history was about to be made.
How did the picture get its name? Tom Juneau, the author of the esquire article came up with the name the falling man and then it got stuck, forever.
And hence started the story of the man, falling from the north tower, falling in desperation and in hope, the desperation of a man with no choice but to jump down from the burning skyscraper, wanting to breathe the fresh air, feel the winds, one last time, one time before his head hits the ground and it’s all blood and bones. And the hope of a man, who wishes that once he hits the ground he survives, not to be a survivor or a hero, but to be an ordinary man, who can see tomorrow and who can return home.
“I like to think of the falling man as a sort of unknown soldier. I let him represent everyone that had the fall on that day, said Drew while expressing his thoughts on the photograph.
The Falling Man
In the picture, the man departed like an arrow. He did not choose this for him but yet he accepted it in his last minutes alive. He appears to be flying and not falling, his black boots still on, his pockets flying off from his pants. He seems to be calm and collected in the grip of unimaginable motion. He was falling at the rate of 32 feet per second and yet he seems okay. His left leg is bent at the knee, his arms are at his side, he did not seem to be diverted through gravity’s divine suction.
In other pictures of people doing what he did, they seemed terrified, struggling in the air, some of them shirtless with shoes falling, hands waving as if almost they’re not ready to jump, not willing to die being crushed to the ground, that this is not just the end for them.
Those who fell jumped or took a leap of faith that day, the newspaper, the TV channels, termed them as jumpers. They were classified and believed to be as jumpers until ellen borakan rectified that a jumper is somebody who goes to the office in the morning knowing he would commit suicide, where on the other side those who jumped were forced, not because they wanted to but because they had too, as there was no other choice.