Yet from the horror, a miracle emerged:
the men of FDNY Ladder Company 6 and a woman they call their guardian angel. Their story of
survival was told by NBC's
Stone Phillips on the program Dateline.
Ladder Company 6 arrived at the World Trade Center minutes after the call came in, and were in the
lobby when the second Tower was hit. Along with their brethren firefighters they climbed the
stairs, each carrying 110 pounds of gear. As they reached the 27th floor, South Tower collapsed,
and the call came to evacuate. As the firefighters descended, they assisted civilians who had
not yet been able to leave; Ladder 6 came to the aid of Josephine Harris, an elderly woman who'd made
it down from the 73rd floor, and was so tired, she could barely take another step. As they
slowly made their way, they never suspected the exhausted woman would wind up
saving all of their lives by forcing them to stop
when everyone else was fleeing.
Urged on by her escorts, leaning on the brawniest, Josephine Harris was moving as quickly as she
could, but exhaustion was gaining. Their progress was slow, inching down the stairwell, moving
aside to let other firefighters pass ... and when they reached the fourth floor, Josephine stopped and
"That’s it, I can’t go anymore."
They all stopped.
And so they stood in the stairwell on the fourth floor when they
heard a thundering rumble, and hundreds of thousands of tons of cement, steel, and glass began to melt
away. The force of the collapse threw them to the floor, and they lay in the thickening smoke until
the rumbling and shaking ceased. Because they had stopped for Josephine Harris, they were
protected in what was left of the stairwell between the second and fourth floors, one of the few
spaces in the building that hadn’t been crushed in the collapse.
Shrouded in darkness and ash, they had survived the collapse of North Tower, but their ordeal was
far from over. After being trapped in the stairwell for hours, finally, a break in the dust
cloud and a revelation: pinpoint of light finally led them to an opening, a portal for their
The complete story of the Miracle of Ladder Company 6 can be found at the
For the millions who watched the horror unfold, live,
on September 11, there were no words to express the experience.
My own feelings would naturally express themselves in my work, and even as I watched, this rosary
began to take shape. I knew I would use labradorite ... a stone that appears cloudy and gray but
reveals brilliant flashes of blue, like the devastation of that September morning.
But I would have to wait; the beads that were ordered in August , had been shipped on
September 10th ... In the interim, I saw the Dateline feature about Ladder Company
6, and that story inspired the completed design.