Americans will never forget the events of 911. But for some first responders families, it was incredibly personal.
When the towers fell, 3,000 people died and many first responders died as well. In the catastrophe, 343 firefighters died and 72 law enforcement personnel died.
One of those first responders was NYPD officer Moira Smith. She perished while helping to evacuate people in the World Trade Center’s south tower. As she was helping, the tower fell.
In the book, “Woman at Ground Zero,” NYPD Sgt. Mary Young said “Moira was so compassionate, so serious about her work. Nothing could have stopped her from running into that building to help save lives on September 11. Nothing.”
Smith saved hundreds of lives that day. As a result, the NYPD gave her the Medal of Honor posthumously. She also has a playground named in her honor, the PO Moira Smith Playground.
Called to Help Others
Smith’s foray in to rescuing lives began early in life. At camp she rescued a young girl from drowning in the pool when she was only in seventh grade.
In 1991, she and her husband Jim Smith were the first on the scene of an accident at Union Station. Moira had already worked a full shift, but she spent the next 12 hours getting people off the train.
She ended up going to the hospital for smoke inhalation. Both she and Jim received Distinguished Duty Medals from the NYPD.
On 9/11 Smith was working Sixth Avenue and 17th Street in Manhattan with the community policing unit. From her post she saw Flight 11 fly straight into the north tower of the World Trade Center.
According to IBD, Smith was one of first officers that reported what she had just witnessed. She also took witnesses to the 13th precinct to speak with officers.
She then proceeded to head back to the towers and assist in the evacuation. When the second plane hit, she moved over to the south tower to assist with helping people exit the lobby.
According to survivor Martin Glynn, “Moira stood at the end of the ramp directing the traffic down the escalator. She had her flashlight in her right hand and she was waving it. … She was repeating over and over: `Don’t look! Keep moving.'”
Forever A Hero
Smith will forever be remembered as the calming force that helped saved peoples lives on that horrendous day.