Sept. 7, 2011— -- intro: Ten years after 9/11 ABCNews.com caught up with five people captured in some of the most iconic photographs from the center of the devastation at ground zero.
These are their stories.
quicklist: 1category: Icons of 9/11
title: Ed Fine, "The Businessman"
text: Ever since 9/11, Ed Fine has held on to the dust-covered suit he wore the day he escaped from 79th floor of the North Tower. It's sitting in his closet next to his World Trade Center pass, an unused ferry ticket and his shoes.
Fine, now 68, spoke to ABCNews.com in August from his home in Watchung, N.J., about the day that permanently changed his life.
Prior to 9/11, Fine said he was "pretty much focused on work. Work first, work second, work third …. everything else fourth, fifth, sixth."
After 9/11, he said, "I realized my life and everyone else's life is hanging by a thread. Here today, gone tomorrow."
The former president of Carpe DM, Inc., an investor relations firm, had just ended a meeting in the North Tower and was about to go to an appointment on 41st St., but he missed the elevator heading to the ground floor. It was 8:46 a.m. As he stood waiting, American Airlines flight 11 hit the North Tower.
"Had I gotten on that elevator I would probably not be having this conversation today," he said.
Dust and glass flew toward Fine and he jumped into an adjoining corridor. He began walking down the stairs, and eventually ran into a woman who was handing out wet paper towels. He took one.
Fine made it to the ground floor and had been out of the building for only about four minutes when "I heard this amazing boom."
He turned back and saw the South Tower collapse.
"I was transfixed," Fine said.
As he stood watching the tower fall, someone ran past him, slammed him on the back and "screamed at me to run," Fine said.
He did run, struggling to breathe, and remembered the wet paper towel, putting it in front of his mouth to filter the air.
"If I didn't have that, I might have suffocated," he said.
He managed to get half a block away, and turned on Broadway to get uptown.
"I saw a priest and an EMT on the corner looking back downtown and they had these horrified looks on their faces. All you saw was this massive wall of dust and debris rolling down Broadway, like rolling thunder."
They told him to get down.
"The priest put his hand on my shoulder and was praying like crazy," Fine said.
Eventually, after lying in the debris, he got up and found water at a nearby cafe.
As he began walking up Broadway again, a photographer took his picture. The image appeared on Fortune magazine's cover shortly after 9/11.
"They thought it represented the intrepid businessman rising up from the ashes, undaunted from this event and moving forward regardless of what happened to him," Fine said. "I can see that, and I think it's a good thing that people think it … and maybe to me it's become that. But whenever I look at it I still think I can't believe it's me and I can't believe I survived."
At the time, he didn't realize his picture had been taken. He just kept walking until he found a bus that brought him to the Weehawken, N.J. ferry.
From there he made it home safely, helping a couple of hitchhikers along the way.
"As I walked out of that debris I put 9/11 behind me," he said. "I don't think about it on a daily basis, I've always looked ahead and try never to look back."
Today, he says his 9-year-old granddaughter Selena "and family in general" brings "enormous joy."
So does his profession.
Fine currently works from home as a senior advisor to Unilife Corporation, a medical device manufacturer he joined six months after 9/11.
"After I survived I was looking for something that would bring new meaning into my life," he said.
The company, which makes safety syringes to prevent needle stick injuries, now does all of its manufacturing in the U.S. They relocated from Australia and China to York, Pa., where they now employ 140 people.
"I would like to see more companies do this -- relocate to the U.S. and help build our economy," he said. "The company and I believe we need a strong U.S. economy to lead the world."
The product they make in the U.S. may be more expensive, Fine said, but "the Chinese product was nowhere near the quality of the American product."
In addition, he said their manufacturing equipment produces the product faster. So in the end, the total cost is not higher. The company is now developing drug delivery systems, and planning for expansion.
"If things go right over the next couple years we'll build another plant space and increase employment dramatically," Fine said.
Although he's passionate about his job, Fine says he's also focused on maintaining a work-life balance after the "rebirth" he experienced post-9/11.
"I want to find all the joy I can in the remaining years I have left," he said. "If you don't, you get to the end and say, 'Wow I really missed out, why didn't I change my life when I got a chance?"
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quicklist: 2category: Icons of 9/11
title: Marcy Borders, "The Dust Lady"
text: Marcy Borders was working at Bank of America as a legal administrative assistant in 2001. She was on the 81st floor in the North Tower when the plane hit.