At Ground Zero today, workers moved a staircase that served as an escape route for countless survivors of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center.
The stairway, which survived the destruction of the twin towers and remained the only above-ground remnant of the Trade Center complex, will become part of the memorial to the victims and the survivors of the attacks.
Its 37 stairs once connected the outdoor plaza outside the twin towers to the street below. People who used what has come to be known as the survivors staircase as their escape route, have said it is something that ought to be preserved.
Kayla Bergeron, who worked on the 73rd floor of the World Trade Center, is one of those people. She was sitting at her desk when the first plane hit the tower.
She made the terrifying trip through the stairwells down to the plaza level of the building.
"Everything was fine ... then we felt this huge explosion," she told ABC News. "There was water rushing down and the smoke had gotten thicker and it threw us down ... and I thought we were going to die."
Tom Canavan was in the plaza, too.
"It was like a snowstorm," he said. "Grey smoke, falling ashes, lots of big noises, and there were bodies falling and debris."
But beyond all that smoke and chaos, Canavan could see some light. It was an open-air staircase. The only way out.
Emergency workers pointed people towards the door. Bergeron and Canavan said the staircase saved their life.
"Without that staircase, I don't know how I could have made it out of the plaza alive," Canavan said.
Preservationists and survivors of the 2001 terrorist attack began campaigning years ago to leave the staircase where it was. But it sat in the middle of the footprint of one of five skyscrapers being built to replace the destroyed towers.
After years of debate over whether and how to preserve the structure, officials agreed to move the stairs about 200 feet west on the site, where it will be stored until it can be installed at the Sept. 11 memorial.
Today's moving of the staircase turned into something of a ceremony. An American flag was placed on the staircase before it was hoisted onto a flatbed truck by a crane.
Joe Daniels, president of the September 11th Memorial and Museum, said the staircase is "a historic artifact.
"We will protect it," he told ABC News. "People won't be able to walk on it, but they will be able to go right up to it and be able to see the power of the structure."
Up close, the staircase is battered and broken, but it is still standing. And for many survivors, it's more than a structure, it's a symbol.
Kayla Bergeron agrees. "To me, those stairs represent the resiliency of our country. We can do anything," she said.