The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Husband of 9/11 hero returns award given to late wife after Caitlyn Jenner earns same honor

Officer James Smith puts a flower near the photo of his wife, New York Police Department Officer Moira Smith, who died in the 9/11 attacks. (Sarah Voisin/The Washington Post)
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After the 9/11 attacks, no one disputed that Moira Smith was a hero. The 38-year-old police officer led over 100 bleeding people out of the World Trade Center, one after another, until the building collapsed and buried her beneath its rubble.

The following month, Smith was named one of Glamour magazine’s “Women of the Year,” a title that seemed more than fitting for the only female among the 23 New York Police Department officers who lost their lives that day.

The distinction was retroactively declined last week — by Smith’s husband.

In an open letter to the magazine’s editor in chief, Cyndi Lieve, James Smith said he will be returning his late wife’s posthumous award because of Glamour’s recent decision to grant Caitlyn Jenner the same honor.

“I was shocked and saddened to learn that Glamour has just named Bruce Jenner ‘Woman of the Year,'” Smith wrote, choosing to use Jenner’s pre-transition name. “Was there no woman in America, or the rest of the world, more deserving than this man?”

He concluded, “I can only guess that this was a publicity stunt meant to resuscitate a dying medium. After discussing this slap in the face to the memory of our Hero with my family, I have decided to return Moira’s award to Glamour magazine.”

A spokeswoman for the publication defended the choice to recognize Jenner in a statement to the New York Post, which reported that the award was “yanked off the shelf” in Smith’s Long Island home and FedExed back to Glamour.

“We were proud to honor his wife … in 2001, and we stand by our decision to honor Caitlyn Jenner,” the spokeswoman said. “Glamour’s Women of the Year Awards recognize women with a variety of backgrounds and experiences.”

Jenner was hailed “The Trans Champion” during an awards ceremony held at Carnegie Hall on Nov. 9. Other honorees included ballerina Misty Copeland, actress Reese Witherspoon and the women of Charleston, S.C.

“I would love to see a little space out there, in the world, for people to self-identify as who they are,” Jenner said in a video clip published on Glamour’s Instagram page.

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