911 Museum: Eric Fischl’s Tumbling Woman
National September 11 Memorial & Museum: Eric Fischl’s “Tumbling Woman”
When I was 19 years old, I visited the Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany on a month-long travel study program in Europe. Coming from a small, sheltered mid-Western town in Michigan, I had read of the horrors of the Nazi Concentration Camps, but to physically stand in one of these camps was an experience I was simply not prepared to see. Seeing the mass graves, standing inside the gas chambers, and viewing photograph after photograph of emaciated Jews, I found myself fighting hard to hold back convulsions of sorrow.
No, I’m not talking about a tear on the cheek. I’m talking about holding back such strong emotions that I thought I might fall into convulsions from the horror of man’s inhumanity to man.
I’ll never forget that experience, and I’m happy to say that I’ve never been that grief-stricken until early in the decade when I walked by the massive hole in NYC where the Twin Towers used to stand. It took all of my strength not to fall to the ground in sobs of sheer anguish for here, once again, I was standing on hallowed ground where over 3,000 innocents lost their lives to barbarous acts of evil.
In my grief, my mind flashed back to Psalm 137 where the psalmist laments, ” By the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept for Zion.” I didn’t sit and weep, but I could have.
Now, fast-forward to 2017, and I’m standing in the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in front of this sculpture. I clearly remember the early hours of the attack. Before the media decided to censure the video of the event, I remember witnessing innocents jumping from the Twin Towers rather than die a horrific death by fire.
While controversial (see this article), this sculpture represents one of the women who made the unspeakable decision to jump to her death over burning to death in the fire blazing 110 stories in the sky.
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum is full of memorabilia about the architecture destroyed that dreadful day, and many areas giving remembrance to the fallen, but this sculpture smacks you in the face and reminds you that far more than buildings were lost that day. As this sculpture portrays, 3,000 innocent lives were taken and murdered by cowards who prey on the innocent.
So, while it is well and good to visit the memorial and consider the vastness of the devastation on that day, when we look into the face of this tumbling woman, we’re reminded that these 3,000 were our brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers, cousins, neighbors, friends and fellow citizens.
So, by the streams of the memorial fountains, we weep for the innocents who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001. And no, we will never forget.
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