For John Mahony, a retired U.S. Army colonel who was managing projects for Blue Cross/Blue Shield, instinct came before analysis as he fought to stay on his feet the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

“The building jerked hard, throwing everyone off balance,” remembers Mahony in the account he has written of surviving the 9/11 attacks.

Mahony was working on the 19th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center that morning.

Mahony directed his co-workers to a stairway, checked the area for anyone else, and headed down through what was quickly a haze of smoke and dust.

This was when his daily habit of saying the Lord’s Prayer bobbed to the surface of his mind, providing a grillwork of stability in the midst of the writhing building.

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