Eleven years ago New York Police Department (NYPD) Officer Moira Smith lost her life during the 9/11 World Tradeattacks. Eleven years on, her 13-year-old daughter takes comfort in the remembrance ceremonies and remembering September 11th heroes like her mom.
Patricia Smith was just three-years-old when Mayor Rudy Giulianidraped her mother’s gold medal around her neck at Carnegie Hall. For Patricia, her life has been punctuated by commemorative events for 9/11 and she finds meaning in this.
“The way I felt, it was like I always felt she was watching over me,” Patricia told Newsday at her East Hampton home on Long Island.
Moira Smith was the only female NYPD officerkilled on 9/11. Smith, the daughter of Irish emigrants John Reddy and Mary Finn, helped to save hundreds of lives in Tower 2 before she was killed in the collapse. She was just 38 when she died and was survived by her husband James, also a police officer.
Officer Smith and 22 colleagues were killed when Tower 2 collapsed. They were among the first of the emergency services to respond to reports that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. Her bravery as she led survivors out of the building has been remembered many times.
On 9/11,11 years ago, 3,000 children under the age of 18 lost their parents. In a poem Patricia wrote for the tenth anniversary of the attacks she wrote:
“People always tell me they are sorry,
But I don’t want sorry. I want my mother.”
Speaking to Newsday, she spoke as one of those 3,000 who grew up missing their parent. She said, “When I was little, I really liked the attention – I was a “spotlight” kind of baby.
“I didn’t really know what was going on; I didn’t know why I was being interviewed. They asked me questions about my mom, and I thought that is just what people did.
“But after a while, I started getting the meaning of the question, and I was, like, I don’t want to do this anymore – this is too hard.”
Patricia is too young to remember much of her heroic mother but her family constantly tell her stories of her mother and her bravery.
Read more: Remembering the 9/11 attacks on New York
The teenager said, “I look exactly like her, but with brown hair.”
James, Moira’s widower, said, “Moira was a trouper…Patricia is a little Moira. She has the same spirit, the same caring, the same vitality that Moira had.”
James and Patricia lived in Queens Village until his daughter finished pre-school. They then moved to East Hampton where they live on two acres of land.
In 2006, James remarried to another NYPD officer, Christine, and now Patricia has two brothers James (4) and Christopher (20 months).
Patricia is an avid and fearless horse rider and competitor and is doing well in school. James said, “There are times, especially ceremonies, graduations and things like that, that you are thinking ‘If only her mom was here’. That’s when it’s hardest you know. That they are both missing out.”
Now Patricia is looking ahead to her new future, a future she says was changed forever on 9/11.
She’s currently applying to boarding schools with challenging academic programs. She said, “If I get into a good college, I will have a good career and then I will have a better life…I like having a plan.”
The 13-year-old said that on 11th September 2001, the life she was supposed to have with her mother Moira, “just disappeared”.
“We were really supposed to be moving out to Pennsylvania and we ended up coming here and everything changed…I wasn’t supposed to be here.”
Today, for the first time in 11 years Patricia will not be attending the ceremony at Ground Zero in Manhattan. Instead she will be in school and heading to field hockey afterwards, where she’s trying out for captain.
Patricia, who has given all her friends the “9-11 Never Forget P.O. Moira Smith” bracelet, like the one she wears, said, “I would rather be surrounded by my friends, because I know that is what she would have done.
“I want people to know that she was lovable and everything she did was for someone else. She never considered herself…She was a good person and full of life.”
Moira’s memory not only lives on through her daughter’s lust for life but through the memorials and funds set up in her name.
The Moira Smith Fund was created to help age women receive an education and better their lives. Thus far, The Moira Smith Fund has provided college scholarships to several exceptional young women, who might not have been able to attend college otherwise.
In 2002 a NY Waterway high-speed ferry was named after Moira in honor. At the memorial ceremony and naming of the boat James explained why a Claddagh decorates the boat.
“On the side of the Moira Smith is a Claddagh, an Irish symbol meaning Friendship, Loyalty, and Love. This design embodies what Moira means to us: a good Friend, a Loyal police officer and American, and the Love of our lives.”
Here’s tribute made to for Moira Smith: