‘Things like this should never be forgotten’: 9/11 survivor saddened by ignorance today

Washington Examiner

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It has been more than 20 years since Sept. 11, 2001, but Irina Moldavsky vividly remembers it as a busy morning that quickly became a day that changed everything for her.

“I still remember,” Moldavsky told the Washington Examiner. “It’s hard because some people want to move on, but things like this should never be forgotten — just like the Holocaust and slavery. It’s unfortunate.”

Moldavsky was a 24-year-old optician helping clients get fitted for glasses at the LensCrafters located in the underground shopping plaza below the World Trade Center towers in New York City that day.

When the first plane crashed into the north tower at 8:46 a.m., Moldavsky said lights flickered, but they didn’t think anything of it. Then a lady ran in and yelled that there had been an explosion and told everyone to run. Mass panic broke out.

“We got everybody out of the store,” Moldavsky shared“A crowd of people just took me out. I don’t even remember going up what was probably 60 steps to get out. It was like a wave of water, with everyone just flowing as everyone was running.”

Once outside, she saw burning debris falling from the sky.

“A lot of papers and drop ceiling pieces were burning and falling. It was all in my hair,” Moldavsky said. “I was so disoriented. We looked up, and there were so many people and police cars just pushing through the sidewalks and running into the building. It was crazy. I’m sure all of them died.”

Moldavsky said she attempted to go back to her store to get her purse when she heard the second plane fly closely above her and hit the second tower.

“That’s when the shock kicked in,” Moldavsky admitted. “Everybody started to scream. We were so scared. That’s when everybody started trying to escape.”

She explained there was a nearby drop-down, a “cliff of sorts,” that was the only way out.

“It was like a f***ing movie,” Moldavsky said. “A man was telling us all, ‘Jump, jump.’ I jumped about 10 feet and this man caught me. There was a mature man who started crying; a pregnant woman took her shoes off and ran as fast as she could.”

Moldavsky said she and those around her ran toward the Manhattan Bridge. That’s when they watched the north tower collapse.

“We didn’t know if another plane would hit us,” she explained. “We thought the bridge was going to collapse next.”

Moldavsky walked to a co-worker’s apartment, where her father picked her up and took her back to their home on Coney Island.

“It was far, like 15 miles away, but my whole apartment building hallway was filled with debris from the towers,” she said. “It smelled so bad. It smelled like death for a long time.”

Now in her mid-40s, Moldavsky lives in central Virginia. She said she remembers the unity among New Yorkers as being “incredible.”

Having immigrated from Russia as a child, she said it has been hard to see “so many American freedoms stripped away from us since that day. Kids today don’t even know.” Moldavsky added that it’s disappointing that “such an historical day only really changed those who were directly touched by it.”

“People acknowledge it every year. It’s out there, but people are ignorant if it doesn’t impact them directly,” Moldavsky said. “People should remember this day because people died over ideological and political differences. I wish people understood. It’s good to be reminded that these things can happen to any of us, anytime, any day.”

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