New York Daily News

March 24, 2002

A Final Farewell to Moira

Brave cop, 38, lauded at funeral

By PATRICE O'SHAUGHNESSY Daily News Staff Writer

The father and his toddler daughter stepped out of the limousine into a biting wind for the funeral yesterday. He hoisted the girl up in his arm, dabbed her nose with a tissue and they grinned in the closeness of being two, who once were three.

   
Moira Smith     

James Smith never took his eyes off the flag-draped coffin of his wife, Moira, as it was borne into Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Queens Village. But 2 1/2-year-old Patricia stared only at a bagpiper who played "Amazing Grace."

It was a final farewell to Police Officer Moira Smith more than six months after she died helping others escape the hell of the World Trade Center. Her body was recovered Wednesday.

Some 300 cops filed out of the cold into the church, and one was reminded of all the people streaming out of the fiery south tower on a late summer day, as Moira Smith calmly ordered the escapees to keep moving out of the lobby, not allowing them to stop to look at the destruction outside, preventing a logjam.

'Moment of Calamity'

That was after the 38-year-old cop — the only woman from the NYPD to die that day — led a bleeding, dazed insurance executive away from the building, the pair captured in a now-famous Daily News photograph.

  
  Patricia Smith (l.) salutes as her hero mom's casket is brought out of the church.

"Our only real vocation on the face of the Earth is that we be loving servants," said the Rev. Al LoPinto. "Moira brought out someone and she could have at that moment said 'I've done my share,' but she returned to see who else she might serve in this terrible moment of calamity."

As the priest spoke of her mother, Patricia played with prayer books and marched back and forth in the pew.

"On that morning, God knew whose shoulder He was tapping when He had her rush to the site," LoPinto said.

"Our girl is home now," James Smith, also a city cop, told the mourners in a shaky voice, "but there are still many more families out there who need our prayers.

"Her most important gift is her final example," he said.

Later yesterday, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly spoke of another photo of Moira Smith from that day, one that James Smith carries in his pocket.

It shows her on 14th St. — the twin towers in the distance behind her, one of them afire — helping witnesses to the attack into a police van.

'Something Special'

"She took them to the 13th Precinct, and she could have stayed there to take their statements, but she got a group and headed down there, and she stayed. She just had something special in her. ... This is why people become cops."

Smith was last heard from between the fifth and third floors of the south tower, assisting an asthma patient.

After the funeral, father and daughter walked out of the church to see the hundreds of cops saluting the coffin. Patricia's left hand held her father's, and her right came up to her forehead, as she smiled broadly and mimicked the somber cops.

She kept saluting as her father pulled her near and wrapped his overcoat around her and the coffin was carried away.