‘We Fell Like Stars’

Twenty years post the most numbing Tuesday in the life of the modern world, the meanings of 9/11 continue to percolate. Today, we remember those who died not as numbers but as humans like us

The article below, Falling in Love, first appeared as a column in the Irish Times almost 20 years ago. It was the result of more than a week of struggling with what we had watched that afternoon of Tuesday, September 11th, 2001 — the planes crashing into the Twin Towers in New York, the people jumping from the windows and ledges, the World Trade Center coming down like Jenga towers out of the sequence of their being hit.

It was not my first attempt to write about it. A day or two after the attack I wrote something that more explicitly accepted the official narrative, tying it in to a postcard we had received in the early 1970s from my great-aunt Norah, showing a picture of the newly-built towers. Norah Brennan, my grandmother’s sister, had gone to New York several decades before to work as a housekeeper in Brooklyn. She was as proud of those towers as if she had built them herself, which in a sense she did. 

At that time I unquestioningly accepted the official narrative about Islamist terrorists taking the towers down. I became aware of the ‘conspiracy theories’ (the ‘theories’ concerning a ‘conspiracy’) but could not at the time accept any of them. I recall poring over videos of the day’s events and reading detailed explanations for why the tower that was hit first, at 8:46am, fell after the second tower, hit 17 minutes later, at 9:03am.The South Tower collapsed at 9:59am, 56 minutes after the impact of the second plane. The North Tower started to fall at 10.28am, one hour and 42 minutes after being hit. I wasn’t entirely convinced by the ‘explanation’ (the insulation on the girders was more robust in the second tower) but that was not why I did not accept the ‘theory’.

I did not accept it because I could not contemplate a scenario wherein the elected, supposedly democratic leaders of a free people might conspire against those people to kill or maim them. Whenever I came to a crack in the narrative, I stopped and turned away, being unable to face the only possible conclusion of going on: that several of the key leaders of the ‘Free World’ had conspired to kill thousands of innocent people for a political end. The past 18 months have shown me, up close and menacingly, that this was a profoundly naïve view.

I have not arrived at a settled view of all the facts and meanings of 911; I know there are many different theories out there, some of which I have gone into, others I have not. But, however I might at any future time come down on any of this, something I now know for certain is that, generally speaking, the world, including (in particular, actually) the ‘Free World’ is led by a cadre of murderous psychopaths who have no respect for truth, justice, decency or freedom, who self-evidently think nothing of killing sections of their populations for any motive or next-to none. The period we have lived through since February 2020 has left me in no doubt that the greatest danger to the modern world comes from its elite leaderships, deep states, multi-trillion corporates and so-called technological experts — all provided with air-cover by a rancid media industry displaying little ethical differentiation anywhere across the globe. One thing I know for certain is that I shall never be able to return to the innocence with which I regarded the world before March 2020.

The article below stands the test of time only because it is centred on the victims, the people within the towers, in those dreadful 102 minutes between the first impact of the first plane and the commencement of the collapse of the second tower. 

For whatever portion of that 102 minutes I remained watching — I do not remember, perhaps an hour or so — I was frozen in time. The images I describe in the article below will forever be ingrained on my consciousness. I remember hearing, several days afterwards, that they had been removed from the internet for reasons of sensitivity, and I thought, and think, that this was proper and correct. I have not searched to see if I can still find a clip of someone jumping from the towers. I could not bear it, even now. 

Perhaps this is what the evil malefactors who plotted this calamity were counting on: that the strength of emotion that would arise from this episode would provide them with a shield behind which to shield their evil-doing. If so, they have been more or less proved correct. All I can say is that I have ceased to be fooled. Now I understand and accept that we have not been told the true narrative of what happened that fateful day. This is not the moment for going into it, but below I have linked a recent video by David Icke, in which he sketches out some of the true facts and connects what happened to what has been happening in our former democracies for the past 18 months. I now believe that David Icke, that most maligned of men, has been conducting a precious mission of journalism in placing before the public over the past 30 years alternative explanations for the drifts of our world. For his latest analysis, linking the Covid scamdemic to 911, see video here *

For today, I simply wish to reproduce this article I wrote back then, by way of tribute to the more than 3,000 people who died on September 11th or subsequently from the injuries incurred that day of unforgivable evil. It is not my last word on 911, but it remains a true and truthful document of my initial response. And, of that, nothing whatever has been changed by what I have come to suspect or realise in the interim. 

Beyond all contest, it was this column of mine that attracted the most responses of anything I’ve ever written. It appeared two weeks after the devastation of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. I wrote about the most heartbreaking image I had seen in my life: a photograph in a magazine of a man and woman jumping from one of the towers hand-in-hand.  I described their descent, speculated about what had preceded it and shudderingly considered what might have passed between them in the moments before they jumped and just before they hit the ground. A few of the usual-suspect Irish Times readers wrote to inform me that it was a  ‘simple’ matter of the temperature in the building as the fire reached the height of its frenzy. ‘I heard on one of the American news channels that the reason people jumped was because the temperature on the upper floors rose to a minimum of 600c’, one correspondent archly informed me. ‘And yes they timed the falls — about 10 seconds.’

But most people got the point and expressed their sense of identification, grief, horror and, humblingly, gratitude to me for enabling them to comprehend the event at some more personal level. It moved me greatly that many were from the United States. 

‘Of everything that I have read these past two weeks,’ one woman wrote, ‘it conveyed better than anything the traumatic reality of the disaster, in terms of real people's lives — and all conveyed through the “story” of two people whose names we will never know. It forced me into trying to grasp that horror. It also made me weep.’

‘What a beautiful love story,’ A man wrote from America. ‘It should be read from every pulpit in every church.’

‘I live and work in New York City. I heard the plane go over my building on  9/11, and from my roof I watched the towers explode. I work at a national news network, and was bombarded with images and reports which lasted for  weeks. I have read many, many, articles and interviews, and watched a lot of footage, more than is good for any person's sanity. I don't need to tell you that the following month was a long stretch of 12 hour/6 day work weeks. Your column on September 24 is the best piece of writing I have read, and I have read a lot, on the thoughts that went through our heads when we saw the pictures of the couple jumping together. Your last paragraph helps me every  time I read it.’

Another reader wrote: ‘You broke my heart with the tender writing you did of the couple holding hands and jumping from the WTC.  In most of what I read of your opinion I had tears pouring down my cheeks.’

And another: ‘It is all too easy to let the surreal nature of the event make us forget that people, real people, living, breathing, loving, devoted, caring, beautiful people died en mass in that one malicious stroke of evil. You have reminded us in a beautiful way of this. For that I thank you.’

A ‘hard-bitten’ female media colleague from the US wrote: ‘I hope with all my heart you are right, that they're laughing at how little they had been prepared to settle for. The idea gives me comfort and I occasionally go back to your column. I read it for two reasons, the first being, to make sure it still moves me, because if it doesn't, I know this job has hardened me too much, and the second, to get to the end of it, where I can find  that little piece of hope and hold on to it.’

Other readers sent poems, some by other people, some they’d written themselves. 

We fell like stars 

       Through the pain 

       Through the memory 

       We fell like stars

Falling in Love 

(Originally published September 24th, 2001, The Irish Times)

I thought I had comprehended the awfulness of what happened in Manhattan until someone drew my attention to a photograph in one of the American news weeklies. It showed people jumping from one of the towers before it collapsed. Of the figures of several men and women plummeting to their deaths, two, a man and a woman, appeared to be holding hands.

 It is cliche to say that the calamity of the World Trade Centre resembled the most unbelievable horror sci-fi movie. I watched from within minutes of the first plane hitting the first tower. There was something unreal, unreachable, about it. The thought crossed my mind that we have evolved forms of technology to watch such calamities but no means of intervening in them.

When the towers began to fall, there was a, yes, spectacularity about it, and one had to deliberately remind oneself that there were still possibly thousands of people inside. So many times we had seen comparable sights created by special effects, acquiring the ability to be shocked without feeling anything real. That dual emotional response did not disperse in me until I forced myself to look that photograph.

And I had to force myself. This image was beyond words, belief or comprehension, and yet somehow made possible the beginnings of comprehension. Its horror, it began to dawn on me, resided in the story that might lie behind it.

Who were they, this man and this woman? What did they mean to one another? Were they lovers or good friends? What had been their thoughts, that morning, brushing their teeth? Had they arrived at the World Trade Centre a short time before, hand in hand? Did they ascend in the lift together? Were they alone and, if so, did they smooch on the way up? Did they linger a moment in a corridor before going to their separate desks, planning to meet for lunch? Did one of them ring the other just after they parted? And in the fateful moments after the plane hit their tower did they seek one another out, understanding immediately that this was the end? What did they say to begin to comprehend what had happened to their beautiful lives, to their hopes and dreams, to their plans of being together? What words did they use, this man and this woman, to set in train the beginning of the end of their lives? Which of them made the first move, beginning the short process of setting out the awful logic of their situation? Did the man say to the woman, or the woman to the man, ‘We are going to die’? How did this notion begin to root itself between them? Did their lives flash before them, both at the same time? Did they have time to look into the awful chasm now opening up between what they had imagined their lives might be like and what their remaining minutes or hours were likely to be like unless they took their lives into their own hands? How did they come to terms with that enormity in the little time they had to make up their minds? Or, were they just too terrified for words? Was the situation and its awful solution so obvious that no words were necessary or even possible? Were tears their only exchange? Did the man lead the woman, or the woman lead the man, in silence towards the window to their mutual doom? What was it like, in those stricken rooms in those fatally wounded towers in those final minutes as the world looked on, unable to do anything, unable even to register the emotional difference between this and a Spiderman movie? Was there a logic to that final act? Was it based on the ineluctable knowledge of the reality which we now know only too well? Did they know for sure the tower would fall? Was there nothing of hope? Did they make a conscious choice that falling to their deaths was better than being roasted alive? Did they pray for a miracle, perhaps being blown onto a ledge below the fire beneath them? Did God come into it? Did they decide to depart this world hand-in-hand, so as to enter the next in the same way? Did either or both smoke a final cigarette, or did it strike them it was against the law? Did they jump at the same instant or had one of them to pull the other after him or her? Did they utter final words of love? Were there other people queueing up for the ledge and did they have to jump hurriedly without saying goodbye, or safe home or see you on the other side? Did they speak on the way down? How long did it take before they hit the ground — how long, I mean, in ‘real time’ — the length of time it takes to — what? — turn the page of a newspaper or change the channel on a TV set? Did they have time to look around, one last time, at the world they had so suddenly to depart? Did one of them perhaps catch a glimpse of what might have been, in the distance, a camera flash, before that first blaze of heaven exploded in their brains?

I hope and pray they are together now, that man and woman we saw falling in togetherness, and that they can remember their dreams of love on Earth and laugh at how little they had been prepared to settle for. May they rest in peace and love.

* David Icke on 911 (his most recent video on the topic, one of dozens he has made, posted here by way of an introduction to this man’s extraordinary work for truth and justice under innumerable headings. Click here.)