Life

The Falling Man

At fifteen seconds after 9:41 a.m., on September 11, 2001, a photographer named Richard Drew took a picture of a man falling through the sky—falling through time as well as through space. The picture went all around the world, and then disappeared, as if we willed it away. One of the most famous photographs in human history became an unmarked grave, and the man buried inside its frame—the Falling Man.

The man’s identity was not revealed- until yesterday. A documentary in the UK is telling the story of the ‘jumpers’ of 9/11. It follows the trail of the photographer who wholesale mlb jerseys nearly lost his life shooting the image; of the citizens who decried it, arguing that it was sensational and exploitative; of the editors who published it and then reluctantly banned it; and the journalist who finally uncovered the falling man’s identity.

Alongside this is the larger story wholesale mlb jerseys of the hundreds who jumped to their deaths from the towers on that dreadful day. The Falling Man provides a new examination of the events that unfolded inside the towers after the planes hit, prompting the question implicit in the photograph:

Would you have jumped if you were in that situation?

Five years after the horror of September 9, 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 cheap jerseys 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’.

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. 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 Determining 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 Thai 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…

Eighteen minutes after the first plane struck, the second plane hit the south tower, trapping another 600 people. Official estimates of how many people leapt from the buildings vary from 50 to 200.

The picture (shown above) 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.

It was executive chef Michael Lomonaco who finally solved the mystery who worked with Jonathan. “Jonathan fitted the body type, the skin colour, and it left the door open for a possibility that it was really Jonathan,” Lomonaco says.

Jonathan’s father is still too upset to speak about his son but his sister, Gwendolyn, is ready to talk. cheap jerseys “Jonathan was a person who just loved life and it was contagious so that when we were around him, you couldn’t Starts help smiling and laughing.” Nobody will ever know for sure if Jonathan was the Falling Man, although the evidence makes it highly likely.

In one of the pictures, his white shirt is blown away by the wind to reveal an orange T-shirt – identical to the one he wore wholesale jerseys to work.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.

Sources: UK Newspapers & TV

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29 Comments

  • Reply
    Jackie
    March 16, 2006 at 10:24 pm

    It’s really really sad :/

  • Reply
    ananyah
    March 17, 2006 at 11:11 am

    I know it is…. imagine what his family (and all the others) went thru :(

  • Reply
    Alia
    March 17, 2006 at 6:40 pm

    As a photojournalist I believe that yes we are here to record history but at the same time ask this question: By publishing such a sensitive photograph have u achieved something good out of it?
    Has the public gained anything? Or have u just caused pain?
    In a similar situation the photos of the late Princess Diana in her car crash, the photographs were banned but they snuck through due to public demand. This man although not a celebrity still has the right to rest in peace with the images banned. But before pointing the finger at the photographer (who should have some moral and ethical values) when we as a public are curious about it we also are as guilty by stirring a demand on those images.

  • Reply
    jmiles
    July 25, 2006 at 5:04 pm

    more of these photos must be shown.This was not two buildings just falling down and 3000 people simply disappearing! this was not a soft liberal thing; this was horrific!this was murder, terrorism, war; people must get-it.

  • Reply
    » I’m in VOGUE!
    September 5, 2006 at 10:08 pm

    […] The post in question that was mentioned was The Falling Man, about one of the people caught up in the World Trade Center attack. […]

  • Reply
    chloe
    September 11, 2006 at 6:22 pm

    god bless this man..may he rest in peace

  • Reply
    lauren
    March 3, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    I am 14 years old and i am so upset about 9/11. Im actually crying as im writing this now.Jonathan Briley was free when he was falling he was falling into the hands of god. He couldnt feel any pain he was just falling from the sky. As he was falling he was probably closing his eyes, it was a dream, he would wake up soon. I no he is with god now looking down on all of us thinking why isnt all of the problems being sorted out why is there still people killing eachother?. I so strongly feel that people are wicked evil creatures and cant trust any of them if people are still killing eachother even though they no its rong why are they doing it as ive said what are they gaining out of it. I am so so angry and upset. This picture is extremely touching, i dont no him personally but i love him with all my heart no matter if he was a bad person. No one deserves to die because of some stupid person wants revenge on bush.

    Its all because of religion. Why is there religion? religion seems to be the cause of all the problems today. I think we should get rid of religion maybe everyone would have a better life.

  • Reply
    ananyah
    March 4, 2007 at 12:00 am

    Lauren, thank you for taking the time to write your comment.

    I do believe that he’s in heaven now, as with many others who died during 9/11. It was a cruel time and I wish it never happened.

    I don’t believe that ALL people are evil creatures, there are just some evil amongst us which cause these events.

    The people who carry out these attacks are brainwashed into thinking that what they are doing the right thing, and of course it isn’t.

    I dont think anyone deserves to die, especially the innocent but at the same time, I don’t think this will ever change…. bad stuff will continue to happen, thats life and we have to accept it.

    Maybe one day things will change, but I really dont think it will in the short term.

    I also dont think religion is to blame. The people who carried out these attacks, to me, are not Muslim. The definition of a muslim is not “a terrorist who blows up people and loves to kill innocent people”. Islam is about peace, respect & kindness, something these assholes don’t know the meaning of.

    If religion wasn’t in the world, the problems wouldn’t go away. Remember the problems between Blacks & Whites? That wasn’t based on religion, but a certain group of people who think they are superior to another race.

    In order to understand how others think, the key is to be educated on other religions, cultures and races so that we can learn from eachother, not judge other cultures/religions/races on some minority of people’s actions.

    I hope your feeling better and thanks again for your comment, it means alot.

  • Reply
    anon
    April 5, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    dudes sorry to break it to you but you are contradicting yourself first saying ‘I no he is with god now looking down on all of us’ then saying ‘I think we should get rid of religion’ you self-righteous americans need to make your mind up.

  • Reply
    ananyah
    April 5, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    anon, I’m not american!

  • Reply
    1 canadian
    May 14, 2007 at 2:25 am

    To anon- ya there contridicting themselves soo what. huh?
    at least there using there intellegence and there hearts to discuss the issue. all you did is create more anger for the people who read the comments. i mean seriously, do you have to be a jerk while talking about such a personal issue?

    And as for calling them “self-righteous american”, that just shows how stario-typical you are, and i hope that anyone who reads your message simply laughs at your ignorance and self pride-jerk

  • Reply
    Toby Harris
    May 15, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    Rest in peace Jonathan x

  • Reply
    Mel
    May 24, 2007 at 6:00 am

    I’ve seen the Falling Man documentary and it is a very touching peice. It really focuses upon the human tragedy of the event which I think is often forgotten in amoungst all the politics. I advise everyone to try and see this documentary.

  • Reply
    Saz
    September 6, 2007 at 9:40 pm

    May Allahtallah grant this man in heaven (Inshallah)
    he is in my prayers everyday alongside all those who died.
    R.I.P x

  • Reply
    emily
    September 7, 2007 at 8:48 am

    i watched the documerentry yesterday on the ‘falling man’ i was breath taken by this mans outstanding courage and he should be remembered a hero r.i.pxxxx

  • Reply
    lucy
    September 7, 2007 at 10:33 am

    After watching the documentary on Channel 4 last night (The Falling Man) I cannot understand why the American were so outrages by this picture. This is what happened – trapped souls in that building had to make a decision – be burnt to death at the hands of terrorists or jump to your own death! It is a shocking image that made me speechless – but that entire event of 9/11 were shocking and this shouldn’t be ignored. That image was not glamourising terrorism in any way – it merely captured the heartbreaking things that people were forced to do on that day. If I was in that mans shoes – I would have done exactly the same – I would rather die of my own accord than at the hands of mindless terrorists!
    The documentary nearly bought me to tears – I have, like so many other been moved by what happened on that day and the reslience of the USA – but that image is breathtaking – and should be remembered! God bless to all those that lost their lives on that day and to their families who are still struggling with their grief!!!

  • Reply
    Adam
    September 7, 2007 at 5:42 pm

    God Speed my friend

    R.I.P

  • Reply
    Rob
    September 8, 2007 at 12:33 am

    Jonathan, In the Naudet video, as bodies were falling, a fireman who is getting ready to go up into the inferno asks “what could be so horrible up there that they’d choose this?”
    Jonathan I know you had asthma, and would have needed fresh air to continue to breath. Whether you jumped or fell, I pray that you left the hell that you were trapped in behind you, and for those last 10 seconds of your life you were in a better place than the jagged ledge you left behind, a thousand feet high, spewing choking black smoke and intense heat.
    May you rest in peace.

  • Reply
    Billy
    September 8, 2007 at 9:39 pm

    You can just imagine how hard it must be for the last few seconds when you decide to jump or not and then finally leaping off the edge.
    R.I.P

  • Reply
    Majora
    September 12, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    I think this is one of the most beautiful pictures i’ve ever seen, I hope it was quick and painless, even if there was such pain, it means nothing because he’s had his chance to fly

  • Reply
    Neils
    September 19, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    Chance to fly, I dream of it everyday but certainly not this way.What amazes me nevertheless is that, 9/11 is not seen as a broader picture by our American Brohers and Sisters. They just concentrate on that tragic event and label the perpetrators Terrorist and then the game is over.What about thinking a bit further to understand why people would take away their own lives to cause you harm?- Remember the Perpetrators were Fathers, Brothers, Sons, etc. Why did they choose to end their live in other to cause pain to America? Why is it still happening in Palestine, Iraq, Afganistan, UK, Spain, Chechenia and other places? This is the broader picture.

  • Reply
    David
    October 8, 2007 at 3:50 am

    Just like the images of the Nazi attrocities visited upon the Jew’s during WWII, this image is important in documenting this event truthfully, and I am glad it is still available. Being forced out by the heat-flames, or simply choosing the jump as a more desirable alternative…either way the end would be the same…not an easy decision, but burning to death would be more painful and that pain would last longer.

  • Reply
    David
    January 24, 2008 at 10:23 am

    I have been extremely moved by this picture. It almost puts me in touch with god and gives me hope. This man seems calm to me. Having made the decision to leave the world he is safe and relaxed. We cannot get close to how he really felt but my feeling is that he is waving goodbye.

  • Reply
    Rachek
    February 21, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    dios mio.oh my god. i was only in 1st grade when this happened.did any of the jumping/falling people ever make it alive.i herd after a while they put trampolines out is that true?

  • Reply
    Rachel
    February 21, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    dear lauren,
    DIOS MIO.iam 13 and what do you mean if there was NO religon. if you didnt believe in GOD you wouldn’t go to heaven. but yes religon shouldn’t be the reason for killing someone.we are all children of GOD.He jumped because he knew GOD or the ANGELS would catch him.nice and calm. R.I.P
    heres the link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNNTcHq5Tzk&feature=related
    yesterday i saw alot of videos from 9/11.one that stood out to me was this one watch it.in a matter of seconds millons of peoples lives were GONE!!

  • Reply
    Dylan
    March 2, 2008 at 6:55 am

    I write a poem for all the fallen on 911,
    two trees just two trees alone in the wind
    two planes Two damned planes changed the way we think forever, about are buildings, about are familys, about are military, we are a stong army not a army of war but a army of a nation a nation that can over come anything anyone can put in are way
    those planes opened are eyes
    those planes split apart familys
    Those people made us see that we can do anything, we can rebuild we can remake but that day is in my heart for ever i will never forget. Will you ?

  • Reply
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