For 12 years Rosemary Smith worked as a telephone operator for the law firm Sidley, Austin, Brown and Wood on the 57th floor of the North Tower.
Smith survived the February 26, 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. She had grave reservations about returning to work at the World Trade Center. But, she loved her job and vowed to persist. She bought herself a gold and sapphire ring as both a reward to honor surviving the harrowing experiences and incentive to return to the site of the attack.
“She got out, and she was afraid to go back, but her company went back, and she loved the job, so she wanted to go back," her daughter Rosemary Kempton said.
On September 11, 2001, Smith was at her desk operating the phones. After hijacked Flight 11 hit her building, she stayed behind while the rest of her colleagues evacuated so she could forward the calls to the answering machine. She was the only one in her company who did not survive. Her strong work ethic cost her precious time to escape.
Smith’s purse, watch and gold ring were recovered with her remains from Fresh Kills Landfill and returned to her family by the NYPD.
The ring, which is on view in the 9/11 Memorial Museum, stands as a symbol of both courage and fate. Today, a white rose was placed in Smith’s name on the 9/11 Memorial in honor of what would have been her 76th birthday.
By Jenny Pachucki, 9/11 Memorial Content Strategist