But wait. That is sanitized. Where is the reality, the truth of what actually occurred on September 11th of 2001?
Since that fateful Tuesday, I have said that we — Americans — need to see what really happened to the occupants of the Twin Towers. We need to see and hear and read and understand what truly transpired with the lives of those who were killed that day. Because, you see, most of these real-life sights and sounds have been sanitized and scrubbed from the media these days; we find such things too disturbing, too graphic. Our dainty sensibilities might become offended.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am here to offend. I am pushback. I am here to remind you in stark, gravid detail, color and description. I couldn’t care less if you are a snowflake. I am here to show you the 9/11 jumpers and the decisions they made.
Here is what happened to the jumpers and those still trapped within the Twin Towers: one million tons — two billion pounds (2,000,000,000) — of concrete and steel fell down upon citizens of the United States of America, turning human tissue to liquid and leaving most with no way of being identified whatsoever.
The science of falling human flesh indicates that an average 200 pound human being, with air resistance, will eventually reach a terminal velocity of around 53 m/s (195 km/h or 122 mph). The Twin Towers were 1,362 feet tall. We know that 99% of the terminal velocity for a human will be reached at around 1,880 feet. Since we also know that Americans did not jump from the top of the buildings but, instead, some stories down, it would be scientifically safe to posit that jumpers reached between 100 and 110 mph at their point of impact with the metal or concrete below.
This is what awaited the jumpers as they took their final step.
A common misconception is that many died mid-jump. That is incorrect. The bulk died upon impact; only those who were already suffering from traumatic burns or egregious wounds may — and I say may — have died enroute their impact sites.
For most, at their velocities, they had a full 10 to 14 seconds to impact. Almost all were completely conscious and, if their eyes were open, they would have seen the World Trade Center become rapidly smaller if they were on their backs, or shockingly larger if they were on their stomachs not unlike a sky diver. Some may have even had their eyes open upon impact. Some may actually have had the rush of the air resistance physically rip pieces of burned flesh and clothing from their bodies as they fell.
You are an employee within the World Trade Centers that day. You would not know what was happening to you, as we know today in hindsight. You would be confused, in panic mode. You would either have survived or, trapped on certain floors with others, you would be attempting to locate a way out.
You could have been splashed with Jet-A fuel (Jet-A powers modern commercial airliners and is a mix of pure kerosene and anti-freeze) and set ablaze immediately. Or you could be surrounded by burning objects and left with only one possible exit strategy: try to somehow knock out a window to the outside world.
Knowing as we do the fire triangle — that is to say, combustion requires oxygen, heat and fuel — we know that when persons trapped in the WTC even managed to break open the windows, the resultant air flow would have enabled flames to burn even hotter by enriching the oxygen content.
Now you have a choice. Imagine. You can burn to death via the flames behind you, or you can knock out a window. If you fail to knock out a window, yes, you burn to death. If you knock out a window or locate a window aperture already damaged, you have time to contemplate. Perhaps a few minutes, perhaps a few seconds. Do you turn to face the flames? Or do you seek the very thing that keeps you alive and has done so for years? The open air?
Perhaps now the flames are licking at your back. You have seen some of your friends, or persons you don’t know, step out into the abyss, their choices having been made. Again, your choice: do I burn to death or do I simply jump?
And that, you recognize with finality, is the sum total of your life.
Here is how and where you end.
You did what you did, you loved who you loved, you accomplished what you accomplished, only to have your life reach this point: I am going to choose death, either way. Your brain sees and twists things, your entire life, years, into a few seconds. The lizard brain rules. Survival. Only this time survival equals death. Either way. You lose.
Your brain asks: how did I get here? It doesn’t matter. You’re here now.
There is an open portal. The air is rushing past you because of the broken WTC window on this perfect day, this blue sky day, this day without clouds, this day that embraces you and now somehow beckons. You see momentarily the land and the sea before and below and the seemingly strong winds blow what hair you have left back if it isn’t already burned off.
Some people wished they could have opened a window for fresh ventilation at the WTC. You may have been one of those. But now your wish is not to have been anywhere near an open window at this juncture.
Except that: now, the clothing on your back is on fire.
Turn or go forward. You go forward.
Ten seconds later.
You were conscious and then you die.
Then billions of pounds collapse upon you.
On Tuesday, September 11th, of 2001.