As much as I like to keep this blog lighthearted, today is the anniversary of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

It’s amazing to think back on the reactions to the bombing and how drastically different they’d be today. For one thing, nobody even thought it was a bomb at first, let alone a bomb orchestrated by Islamic terrorists. The article I linked to above says, “Authorities thought a generator had malfunctioned and exploded.” They didn’t realize it was a malicious act until tests found traces of explosives in the crater. Nowadays, every time somebody sneezes real hard, the first thing we all wonder is whether it’s terrorism. In fact, “Authorities do not believe it was an act of terrorism” has become the required third paragraph for every news story about any sort of disaster/explosion/crash.

Also, speaking only for myself, the bombing upset me at the time but not to a great degree. Yes, it was sad that 6 people died, but I never thought of the bombing as an attack on me. And although I paid attention to the news as the investigation unfolded–the tracking down of the van that held the bomb, the driver going to get his rental deposit back, the arrests, the trial–I was hardly riveted. Like most Americans, I had no idea that the bombing was merely one small piece of a much, much bigger and more dangerous puzzle.

Eight and a half years later, the more “successful” attack on the World Trade Center woke me from that jaded emotional distance and made the tragedy much more real and personal to me. I find myself identifying and empathizing with victims of calamities in a way I never used to.

This past weekend I watched … well, I’m too embarassed to tell you the name of the movie I watched. The important thing is not my terrible taste in movies, it’s that this particular terrible movie was made about 12 or 15 years ago and, about 15 minutes in, there’s a shot of the main character on the observation deck on top of the towers. The Twin Towers were nowhere near are regal as the Empire State Building, but seeing them on my TV reminded me how much I miss them, and how much I miss the “good old days” when I could be jaded about deadly bombings.

Today my thoughts are with the six people who were killed on Feb. 26, 1993–John DiGiovanni, Robert Kirkpatrick, Stephen A. Knapp, William Macko, Wilfredo Mercado, and Monica Rodriguez Smith–as well as with the 2,975 who were unfortunate enough to join them eight and a half years later.

[FYI, the photograph was taken by Jerry Salamone on April 14, 2001.]

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