Those of us who remember can think of February 26, 1993, as just another ordinary Friday, until we learned of the bombing of the World Trade Center in Manhattan. That night instead of watching my usual Knicks game, I was flooded with images both surreal and disturbing as news reports tried to cover every angle of the attack. I remember seeing the words “Terror at the Towers” splashed across the screen and thinking how could the world have come to this.
This first attack on the WTC, of course, seems nothing more than a footnote in history now, but it should never be forgotten because people lost their lives too. Also, it was a wake-up call that we Americans failed to heed, leading to the more remembered and far more devastating attacks on September 11, 2001.
Perhaps because the response was swift, there was no major loss of life, and the buildings seemed invulnerable after this attack, we quickly fell back into complacency. While New Yorkers especially remember the day, it always seemed like something we did our best to overcome. Even the perpetrators were caught and put on trial and sent to prison, so the story seemed to end there.
But, as we all well know now, the story does not end. Those backers of the terrorists who carried out the attack knew this was the target they wanted, and eight years later they would strike on a beautiful blue sky Tuesday morning and change our city, country, and world forever.
John DiGiovanni, Robert Kirkpatrick, Stephen A. Knapp, William Macko, Wilfredo Mercado, and Monica Rodriguez Smith (pregnant with her first child) died that day in 1993. It could have been many more had the terrorists had their way and toppled one building against the other. We cannot forget these people lost, and it is fitting that when the 9/11 Memorial opens this September, their names will be included with those killed in the 9/11 attacks inscribed in bronze for all eternity.
Many people, including myself, can only wonder why February 26, 1993, didn’t do more to shake us out of our collective slumber. Maybe we were too involved in other things, or perhaps it is the way of the world to ignore such events because we want to believe they are isolated and do not affect us personally.
An anniversary is usually considered a happy event, but not in this case. I didn’t know anyone who died in 1993, but I certainly did on September 11, 2001. So did so many other New Yorkers and citizens of this nation. Now we can never forget—ever. As long as we live we can give voice to what that loss did to us, but sometimes I wonder if anyone is listening.
As we approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11, my greatest fear is that we will fall into a complacency as deep as the one after the 1993 bombing. If we allow that to happen, whom do we blame when the next big attack comes?
9/11 was a case that caused most of us to say “Never again.” The 9/11 Memorial is going to be a very visible reminder to everyone of what happened and how many people were lost, and a permanent fixture in the American consciousness. My only question is, after 10 years, how many of us are still saying “Never again,” and if we’re not, what words will we utter if the unthinkable happens on our soil again?
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