During my first year of university, three friends and I drove 42 hours from Halifax, Nova Scotia to New Orleans during reading week to party our asses off during Mardi Gras. This was in February, 1993.
Without going into all the ugly details, mission accomplished.
The trip home wasnt pretty. All of us were dirty, hung over, and malnourished after spending a week subsisting on booze, Popeye Chicken, PoBoy sandwiches and more booze. We were also flat broke.
We stopped briefly in Washington on the way down and visited the war memorials, Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial. We meant to visit New York on the way back, but looking and feeling the way we did, we decided to give it a miss.
I remember passing through The Bronx and crawling down the pot-holed I-92, Manhattan plainly visible on the skyline. The twin World Trade Center towers were easy to spot, towering over the other towers.
One minute it was a postcard; the next, it was front page news. Thick gray smoke was rising from the complex of buildings that surround the towers, and we knew something was wrong.
We turned on the radio to find out what, but it was 10 minutes before the announcer had the facts. A bomb had just exploded in the World Trade Center.
Six people died and over 1,000 more were injured while we sat in traffic, although we didnt find out the extent of the carnage until we were safely back in Halifax.
I had a close friend in New York at the time, who was visiting friends on her reading week. I worried about her the whole way home, and held my breath until she turned up the following day. It turned out she was in Central Park when it happened, and heard the explosion.
We talked about the incident, and I remember saying something about the U.S. being lucky.
Apparently the van that was carrying the explosives was parked near a structural support. The idea was to topple one tower into the other, destroying both buildings and killing everybody. Mercifully, Ramzi Yousef, the terrorist who masterminded the bombing miscalculated how much explosive was needed or to what extent the structure of the mini-van would contain and redirect the explosions.
When the U.S. government finally caught Yousef in the Philippines two years later, they discovered other plans to use chemical weapons against the U.S. by spraying them in airplanes and releasing them into water supplies.
Thats why, as shocked as I was to watch the twin towers collapse on Sept. 11, I couldnt help thinking that the only reason that the twin towers were still standing in the first place was because Yousef made a mistake eight years ago.