It's been two decades since the World Trade Center was rocked by the first of two deadly terror attacks, and victims' family members, politicians and law enforcement personnel gathered at Ground Zero in New York City on Tuesday to mark the occasion.
The somber ceremony marked the 20th anniversary of the World Trade Center bombing, which killed six people and injured more than 1,000 others when a truck bomb exploded in a parking garage under the north tower on February 26, 1993.
The event began at noon Tuesday and the proceedings came to a chilling halt shortly after 12:18 p.m. -- the moment the bomb went off 20 years ago today -- when attendees observed a moment of silence after a bell pealed and the victims' names were read by surviving family members.
It was a rare day of commemoration for victims who The New York Post's Leonard Greene writes "were the first, and they were the forgotten," as their loss has been overshadowed by the more than 2,700 people who were killed in the September 11, 2001, attack on the Twin Towers.
But as Yvette Mercado-Rehm, who was just ten when her father, Wilfredo Mercado, was killed in the 1993 bombing, told the Post, the individual pain for those who lost loved ones in the 1993 bombing is every bit as biting as that felt by family members of those who perished in the largest terrorist attack in American history.
“The loss to me is as same as anybody lost in 9/11,” she said.
And Denise Rosilli, the daughter of Steve Knapp, one of the six victims of the first terrorist act to befall the WTC, agreed with Mercado-Rehm.
“Names get read every year and the whole country watches,” Rosilli told the paper. “We don’t get the same honor for our dead. We are treated differently because we are not part of 9/11.”
But on Tuesday New York took a small steps to right that disparity, taking time to recall the original sin of 20 years ago, when the Financial District was first targeted by extremists seeking to exploit what NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly described as the "theater" that is terrorism, for which "New York is the biggest stage," according to Fox News.
And the World Trade Center Museum slated to open to the public next year will memorialize the victims of both attacks in an effort to grant dignity to those who died during each of the dark days.
Six of the people to be remembered in that most hallowed memorial are the folks who died in the World Trade Center 20 years ago today: John DiGiovanni, 45; Robert W. Kirkpatrick, 61; Stephen Knapp, 48; William Macko, 57; Wilfredo Mercado, 37; Monica Rodriguez Smith, 34; and Rodriguez Smith's unborn child, who was denied the chance to live long enough to be given a first name.
Family members of two of the victims read these names during the ceremony, and still-grieving relatives placed white roses near a plaque commemorating their loss.
A number of prominent politicians also attended the memorial service, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and David Dinkins, who was mayor on the day of the 1993 World Trade Center attack.
The bombing's mastermind, Omar Abel Rahman -- known to many as "the blind sheik" -- remains behind bars despite efforts by his family and his supporters to arrange his release.
Department of Justice spokesman Dean Boyd told the Post that the campaign for Rahman's release, no matter how large it grows, will never achieve its stated goal.
“The blind sheik will spend the rest of his life in a US federal prison -- period,” Boyd said.
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