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Again we became paralyzed with the contrasting sights. A perfect September summer morning, a deep blue sky, perfect air, and The City was disintegrating right before our eyes.  In the center of our view was the World Trade Tower crippled, hollow and on fire.  I wondered, a plane on its way to LaGuardia? Pilot error? A horrible accident?  While we looked up, a man jumped from the building; white shirt, black pants, end-over-end.  “Oh no”,  “My God”, began the muffled cries from the small gathering crowd.  The mass of glass and metal became human at that instant.  We went into shock.  The notion that the building was partially blown away, that the building was damaged irreparably, I understood that what building damage meant.  The building didn’t look human and it didn’t act human but it became human at that very moment when the first man jumped.  Reality was put on hold, disbelief was triggered.  The structure was only important because the people inside made it so.  And, there were lots of people inside.

 

I could see hundreds of people angled against the World Trade windows and as they stood in the voids where the window once protected the building’s tenants from the perils of nature had been melted away. They were trapped.  Brick and mortar came together as a living, breathing organism a representation of all that humanity is, its constructions, its symbols and the entrapment of its very creators from within. The desperation of the people trapped inside was not nearly matched by the agony of those outside.  On the nearby ground, the visual pain slugged us in the stomach nearly driving us to the ground.  One by one people jumped from the blown out shell.  One held on the outer wall for a few seconds or so then apparently, as the flames and heat intensified, he mercifully let go.  Another seemed to get a running start and appeared to fly out by leaping what might have been twenty feet or more, so that his silhouette was fixed against a blue sky and not against the building’s exterior.  My heart ached.  I was certain their free falls were swift and final.  Some dropped spread eagle, some like gliders, others cart-wheeled over and over, some fell erect and stiff, a few fell head first.  From our angle, we witnessed the first two dozen people leap to their death.

 

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