Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The First Attack on the Twin Towers ...

Do you remember where you were 20 years ago today?

I had just started my second semester of teaching at the University of Oklahoma. A little more than two years later, we would all be absorbed by the bombing of the federal building in nearby Oklahoma City, but, on this day in 1993, our attention was on the World Trade Center in New York where someone had set off a bomb in the underground parking area of the North Tower.

I remember lingering in the campus newsroom, watching TV reports and trying to figure out what it all meant. On our TV screen, we saw a lot of smoke and a lot of soot–stained faces on people who were being brought out of the building. Six people were killed that day (seven if you count the unborn child one of the victims was carrying); more than 1,000 were injured.

But as far as we (and, no doubt, most Americans) were concerned, the reason for the bombing was incomprehensible.

As spectacular as those numbers appeared at the time, the bombing did not go off as intended. The plan was for the bomb to knock the North Tower into the South Tower and bring both down, killing thousands in the process. Neither tower fell that day. That would have to wait about 8½ years.

Ramzi Yousef was the mastermind behind the plan. Although it failed to accomplish the objective, it was revised and became the 9–11 plan, which did bring both towers down and did result in the deaths of thousands.

I guess that was the first salvo in the War on Terrorism, although few, if any, realized it that day. Initial (and erroneous) news reports focused on the likelihood that a main transformer may have blown.

My recollection is that neither I nor anyone around me (the other professors, the students, etc.) understood what had happened that day.

Of course, none of us had any idea what would happen in 2001, when the terrorists returned with a vengeance. We were blissfully ignorant at that time.

That would change.

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