Victory in the Dust

The planes hitting the towers on September 11th in 2001, was only part of the catastrophe that would take so many lives and leave a large portion of New York City devastated.  As the jet fuel from the planes burned hotter by the minute the unthinkable happened and the South Tower collapsed.  Knowing the North Tower would most likely follow in its wake, six firefighters from Ladder Company Six made their way up the stairs to help those still stranded at the top.  Each was carrying about 100 pounds of gear and the climb wasn’t an easy one.  When the band of firefighters reached the nineteenth floor they came across Josephine Harris, an elderly woman who had made her way down from the 73rd floor and was too exhausted to go on.  The building was beginning to rumble and the men knew what was coming.  They lifted Ms. Harris to her feet and started their descent.  The going was slow, as Harris was already near the breaking point but the men from Ladder Company Six stayed with her.  At the fourth floor she collapsed again, saying there was no way she could continue, and with the smoke and their heavy equipment there seemed no way to carry her.  She urged them to leave her before it was too late.  Captain Jay Jonas stood his ground and told the others to evacuate, but nobody moved.  The decision was made as the rumbling continued that they would stay with Josephine Harris regardless of the danger.  And then it happened.  The North Tower started its collapse, one floor at a time, “pancaking” on the one below it.  The six firefighters and Josephine braced themselves as the tower literally fell around them, leaving the small space they occupied battered but standing.  Hours later their calls led their fellow firefighters to them and all six, plus Josephine came out alive.  Do miracles happen?  If they hadn’t been on that stairway helping Josephine Harris, and if she hadn’t refused to descend past the fourth floor, the story would have ended with seven more people lost that horrible day.  So, I guess the answer is yes, miracles do happen and they certainly did on 9/11.

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