A New York woman who lost her father on Sept. 11 took the final step in carrying out his legacy when she graduated from the FDNY Academy Tuesday.
Josephine Smith, 34, of Mastic, is one of four women in this year's FDNY class of 280, and the first-ever daughter of a firefighter killed in the World Trade Center attacks to join the FDNY.
Speaking at the ceremony, Smith said she felt "proud, happy, excited... sad that my father couldn't be here."
Kevin Smith, 53, lost his life when the north tower fell. Josephine was 21 at the time, and she first heard it on the radio -- but her desire to be a firefighter like her father started years before.
She recalled "going to work with my dad, playing on fire trucks, even telling my dad how I was going to work with him one day."
Her mother, Angelina Clay, now remarried, said she never doubted.
"I bought her a bottle of champagne before she even started the academy because I knew she'd make it," she said.
Smith's first assignment is Engine 39 on Manhattan's East Side. Her father was with Haz-Mat Company 1.
She carries a picture of him under her uniform hat, and wears his bracelet, too. She said she'll go to work with him every day.
"There's not a second that goes by that I don't think about my father," she said. "There's so much that reminds me of him, there's so much I wish I can tell him about, to come home and tell him what I learned that day."