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"Falling Man," by Richard Drew of Associated Press (from National Geographic)

A decade after.  But the world is called to Never Forget.

I distinctly remember the image of the “Falling Man,” the indelible photo of the tragedy taken by Associated Press photographer Richard Drew and became the representative image of the the four, coordinated series of suicide attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. on that morning of September 11, 2001, with nearly 3,000 died.

The attacks were orchestrated by 19 suspects linked to the Islamist militant group, al-Qaeda, who hijacked four passenger jets: The American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 were intentionally crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City; both towers collapsed within two hours.

The “Falling Man” photo was a heated subject of discussions worldwide — as the photo was regarded from disturbing to being the most powerful image of despair in the 21st century. For among us, members of the student publication, The Varsitarian, we also had our contrasting views. A fellow editor of mine remarked, to paraphrase, the photo was beautiful and encapsulates best the tragedy that was 9/11, for which I distinctly retorted: Ano ang maganda sa larawan ng trahedya? (What is so beautiful about that image of tragedy?)

The journalist in me would also definitely chose the photo to use as a banner image for my story on 9/11. The individual in me — who at that time, was graduating from the university, was expected to help the family, was aiming to do well in my chosen field — the image was disturbing, the whole tragedy was terrifying, and it made me wonder if I would still have a future to prepare for.

It made the world fear the most. The horror that was 9/11 made America fear for its stature as a superpower. The edifice that was the Twin Towers, a symbol of both power and progress, collapsed in what was a holy war of Obama bin Laden (who was killed May 1, 2011) against the U.S. — allegedly for its presence in Saudi Arabia, the U.S. support to Israel, and the sanctions against Iraq.

The hunt for “weapons of mass destruction” (which phrase attributed to George W. Bush), the sending of troops to alleged Islamic countries that were believed to be hideouts for more terrorist ploys, the endless blaming to Islam for such  assault to mankind continued for a decade.

The New Yorkers, led by Rudy Giuliani, stood up and slowly recovered; the American government assured the world that they would hunt down those responsible, and to be better prepared for more threats of terrorism.

The world banded together, became more vigilant, passed legislations like Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Attack of 2001, Terrorism Suppression Act 2002, Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, Aviation and Transportation Security Act, among similar measures.

Indeed, 9/11 changed America and the world dramatically. But did it make us fear more for our safety? I say, yes.

I captured some bits from Thomas Friedman’s book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded (which I’m trying to finish now), that America literally built fortresses to protect its bases and embassies worldwide. America became too cautious dealing with the rest of the world, especially to those of Islamic origins.

The tragedy that was 9/11 did not stop there. The horror continues even after the capture and death of bin Laden. The image of Falling Man lives on.

We will continue to fall for our fear, for not knowing who our enemies are, for blaming Islam or non-Christian groups for the pockets of uprisings and attacks going on. Most governments of stronger countries will continue to spend ridiculous amounts of money to protect their interests and fortify their defenses.

The next decade will be a challenge. This article best captures what America — and the world should look forward to: stop obsessing about another attack such as 9/11. If we hold on to our fear, the force of terrorism like 9/11 would indeed have won. And no one wants a future like that.

For more on 9:11, a decade after, check:

Associated Press


National Geographic


Time magazine

Yahoo! News


Written by Lynda C. Corpuz

September 11, 2011 at 10:50 pm

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