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Madison Square Park Playground to be Renamed for Female Cop Killed on 9/11

By Mary Johnson | March 9, 2012 8:04am

FLATIRON — The playground inside Madison Square Park will be renamed Saturday in honor of fallen NYPD Officer Moira Ann Smith, the only female member of the department to die on 9/11.

Smith, 38, a mother of a toddler who worked blocks from the park in the 13th Precinct, voluntarily rushed to Ground Zero after the terror attack. She worked with fellow cops to evacuate hundreds of people from 2 World Trade Center before it collapsed around her.

She left behind her husband, NYPD Officer James Smith, and a daughter, Patricia, who was just 2-years-old at the time.

Her husband and daughter are both expected to attend Saturday's dedication ceremony, which will be held at the north end of the park near East 25th Street and Madison Avenue. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Parks Department Commissioner Adrian Benepe and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn are also expected to be there.

Smith was born in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and joined the force in 1988.

She was honored with the Distinguished Duty Medal in 1991, when she helped rescue dozens of commuters after a subway crashed in Union Square, killing five people.

Ten years later, on Sept. 11, 2001, an image captured moments before she died shows her escorting a battered and bloody man to safety.

On a website named for the fallen officer, a man identifying himself as Martin Glynn recalled how Smith helped shepherd him to safety before the tower came down.

"I came to the end of the ramp, and I was standing squarely in front of Moira," Glynn wrote.

"I leaned to the left to try look past her to see the plaza. She quickly matched my motion and blocked my vision, saying, 'Don't look.'"

"Our eyes made direct contact. My eyes said to her, ‘I know how bad it is, and I understand what you're doing,'" Glynn continued. "Her face was full of pain, and her eyes said to me, 'In this horrific situation, this is the best and only thing I can do.'"

Her efforts on that day were voluntary, according to numerous reports. She began watching the events unfold from the 13th Precinct on East 21st Street, between Second and Third avenues, and then decided to head to Ground Zero.

"She, in essence, gathered people together and responded to the World Trade Center with other people from the 13th Precinct," Kelly told The New York Times when Smith's remains were found in 2002.

''She was very lively, really loved life, and was a very energetic person.''

In a ceremony several months after 9/11, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani honored Smith with the Medal of Honor, the NYPD’s highest honor. Patricia Smith accepted the award on behalf of her mother in a ceremony at Carnegie Hall, the medallion's green ribbon draping across her red velvet dress — an image that tugged at heartstrings worldwide.

The dedication of the Madison Square Park playground will take place from 11 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 10, near East 25th Street and Madison Avenue.