Jonathan Eric Briley was working at Windows on the World (North Tower of the World Trade Center) as an audio media specialist during the terrorist attacks.
He is survived by his wife, Hillary; his parents, Marie and the Rev. Alexander Briley; two brothers, Alexander and Timothy; and two sisters, Gwendolyn and Joanne. He used to tell his sister Gwendolyn "there was nothing like" the sunrise he could see each work day from the 110th floor.
Religion played an important role in his life. As a teen-ager, he was a member of Shiloh Baptist Church in New Rochelle. He served in the Christian education ministry and the music ministry. At the time of his death, he worshipped at First Baptist Church of Elmsford, where his father is the pastor
He is believed to be “The Falling Man”.
That image may offend you. Here, in a post that is meant to celebrate a man’s life, I put an image of him moments before his death. If you believe that his death was a suicide and because of that he is damned, go away. Now. Those who jumped that day exhibited courage, not cowardice. This image not only captures the final moments of a man’s life and conveys a powerful message. Not a message of despair and hopelessness. Not even one of faith, though it’s possible that Jonathan’s faith played no small part in his decision. Did he hope for a miracle? Did he leap into the arms of God? I don’t know. I do know that, for whatever reason, he chose not to wait for his fate to come to him. He took matters into his own hands, and he chose to act.
If that isn’t a profound celebration of life, I don’t know what is.
Life will throw all manner of things in our direction, both good and bad. We can either accept it or grab on with both hands and do something with it. It may not go the way you want, but at least you made the effort and demonstrated strength of will, character, and courage.
Jonathan Eric Briley proved to us all that he had those strengths on the morning of September 11, 2001 when he stepped off into the sunrise.