The image has become iconic and the woman in it, a then 28-year-old Marcy Borders, became known as the 'dust lady' in the days after 9/11. She had been working in the North Tower of the World Trade Center only a month, on the 81st floor only 12 stories down from where American Airlines Flight 11 made impact. She made her way down the main stairwell of the tower, along with hundreds of others escaping. In the time it took her to reach the ground floor, the South Tower had just collapsed and an enormous dust cloud, visible from space, was rising. “I took chase from this cloud of dust and smoke that was following me,” Borders said. “Once it caught me it threw me on my hands and knees. Every time I inhaled my mouth filled up with it, I was choking. I was saying to myself out loud, I didn’t want to die, I didn’t want to die.” She was pulled from the dust and into a nearby lobby by a man, and that is where photographer Stan Honda snapped this haunting photo, seen around the world as a testament to the horrors of 9/11. Marcy Borders passed away from stomach cancer in August 2015, cancer she believes was exacerbated by inhaling dust on that fateful day. The 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund and the World Trade Center Health Program estimate that over 2,000 have died of illnesses related to the attack over the past 18 years.
Iconic Photographs Forever Etched in Time
Photograph by Stan Honda