It’s been 8 years since the September 11th attacks when 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked airplanes, slamming them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and crashing into the Pennsylvania countryside. The shock of these events, witnessed by the world, has still not fully dissipated for many – especially those who witnessed the “Jumpers.”

See a picture now called “The Falling Man” — a photograph taken by Richard Drew of the AP at 9:41:15 a.m., on September 11, 2001. This picture gives the impression that the jumper is falling straight down from the WTC. But this is just one of a dozen photographs of his fall. In the other photos, it is very much evident that he is tumbling through the air, completely out of control, and falling to his death.

The Falling Man has become over the years, the symbol of the people dubbed “jumpers” by the press, who were trapped on the upper floors of the World Trade Center Towers 1 & 2. They chose to jump rather than die from the fire and smoke.

The story of the victims who jumped to their deaths is one of the more poignant aspects of the September 11th attacks. It is most certainly one of the harder aspects for me to deal with – even after 8 years. Photographs of people falling to their deaths shocked the world. Most newspapers and magazines ran only one or two photos, then chose to not publish any more.

But the few images that were out there, like The Falling Man, resonated with unbelief. Many who survived or witnessed the attacks on the WTC say the sight of victims jumping to a certain death is their most horrible memory of that day.

It is estimated that at least 200 people jumped to their deaths that morning, far more than can be seen in the photographs available to the public. Nearly all were from the north tower, which you will remember was hit first and collapsed last. Fewer than a dozen of the jumpers were from the south tower.

The jumping started shortly after the first jet hit at 8:46 a.m. People jumped continuously during the 102 minutes that the north tower stood. Two people jumped as the north tower began to fall at 10:28 a.m., witnesses said. For those who jumped, the fall lasted just 10 seconds. They struck the ground at 150 miles per hour — not fast enough to cause unconsciousness while falling, but fast enough to ensure instant death on impact.

Desperate people jumped from all four sides of the north tower. They jumped alone, they jumped in pairs and they jumped in groups. They jumped holding hands.

Nobody survived on the floors from which people jumped. Ultimately the jumpers, often called the day’s most public victims, chose not whether to die but how they would die. I am quite certain I would not have such courage.

This is an updated post that was originally written on September 11, 2008. You can see photos and watch a couple of videos below about the 9/11 Jumpers. Caution: they are sad and very painful to watch however, we must never forget what the terrorists did to us on that terrible day.

9/11: Remembering the Jumpers Video

Video footage of 9/11 Jumpers used at the 20th Hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui’s Trial