Yes, it’s really been two decades since the first World Trade Center bombing.
We always hear “Never forget.” But how many still remember anymore? And how many have really learned?
The jihadi truck bomb exploded at 12:18pm, Feb. 26, 1993:
Four of the six people killed in the attack worked for the World Trade Center’s owner, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Most of the victims were having lunch in their basement office, adjacent to the parking garage where terrorists parked their explosives-laden van.
Bob Kirkpatrick, 61, Steven Knapp, 47, and Bill Macko, 57, were mechanical supervisors for the transportation agency. Monica Rodriguez Smith was Macko’s secretary. All were killed in the bombing.
The fifth and sixth victims were Wilfred Mercado, 37, who worked for the Windows on the World restaurant atop the North Tower and was checking in food deliveries in the basement, and John DiGiovanni, 45, a dental salesman who was in the parking garage when the bomb exploded.
Another thousand people suffered injuries. It took 11 hours to evacuate some 50,000 people from the complex.
The blast from the homemade 1,500-pound urea-nitrate bomb blew a hole five stories deep and half-a-football field wide. The explosion badly damaged the tower’s inner support beams and caused $500 million in property damage. But the twin towers were repaired, cleaned, and reopened in less than a month.
Here is how the terrorist attack was remembered in NYC today:
The attack was the first dramatic demonstration that “terrorism is theater and New York is the biggest stage,” said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
The ceremony was being held at the 9/11 memorial that honors more than 2,700 people who died in the 2001 terrorist attack at the World Trade Center.
A moment of silence will be observed at 12:18 p.m., the time when a truck bomb was detonated below the north tower.
Six Islamic extremists were convicted of carrying out the bombing, including mastermind Ramzi Yousef.
At first, officials assumed the explosion on a chilly day was an accident.
The initial report to police that day called it an apparent transformer explosion at the trade center.
Kelly raced to the scene, where the bomb planted in a parked Ryder van had left a crater half the size of a football field in the trade center garage, causing more than a half-billion dollars in damage.
“I remember seeing this tremendous sea of first-responder vehicles … and smoke was coming out,” said Kelly, who was on his first stint as police commissioner. The trade center stood in the darkness that night for the first time since it opened in 1973.
It was only the next day, after a utility mishap was ruled out, that authorities “started to come to the conclusion it was bomb,” Kelly said.
Must-read from the New York Post on the 1993 WTC bombing victims’ families:
The blast, which happened Feb. 26, 1993, has been largely overshadowed by the 9/11 attack more than eight years later.
But the families who suffered in 1993 say they lost just as much, even if hardly anyone remembers.
“Names get read every year and the whole country watches,” said Denise Rossilli, whose father, Steve Knapp was killed that day along with John DiGiovanni, 45, Robert W. Kirkpatrick, 61, William Macko, 57, Wilfredo Mercado, 37 and Monica Rodriguez Smith, 34.
“We don’t get the same honor for our dead,” Rosilli said. “We are treated differently because we are not part of 9/11.”
Mementos commemorating that tragedy will be part of the new World Trade Center Museum scheduled to open next year, including a fragment from a granite memorial fountain that was destroyed in the subsequent attack.
The fountain, inscribed with the names of the men and women killed in 1993, sat in an alcove between the north tower and the Marriott Hotel and was destroyed on 9/11.
The partial name of one of the six victims is discernible: John DiGiovanni, a dental equipment salesman from Valley Stream who was leaving the parking garage for a meeting in the World Trade Center when the bomb went off nearby.
But no artifact is more moving than the one left behind by Walter Travers, a Cantor Fitzgerald employee who escaped the North Tower through a smoke-filled staircase five hours after a truck bomb shattered the garage in 1993.
When he finally got to his New Jersey home, he hung his stained, white button-down shirt in the closet, and never wore it again. On 9/11 Travers, 44, was working in the same skyscraper when a hijacked plane hit the tower below the 104th floor where he worked.
He never made it out. After Travers’ death, his wife discovered the shirt from 1993, still covered with soot.
As of 1:50pm Eastern today, the White House Twitter account had zero mentions of the WTC 1993 anniversary. The White House website had nothing about the attack on the front page. And the @BarackObama Twitter account, operated by Organizing for Action, was silent. Maybe if the victims’ families had $500,000 to shell out, they’d get a mention and meeting with the president like his high-dollar donors.
Another must-read: Tiffany Gabay reports at The Blaze on the continuing threat posed by WTC 1993 mastermind Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman.
And the bottom line for WTC 1993 prosecutor Andrew McCarthy: We remain more willfully blind than ever.