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Ground Zero ceremony recalls 1993 WTC bombing

The 23rd anniversary of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that killed six people and injured than 1,000 was marked in a ceremony held at the National September 11 Memorial in Manhattan on Feb. 26, 2016. (Credit: Craig Ruttle)

Families commemorated the 23rd anniversary of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing on Friday, placing roses on the engraved names of their loved ones on the north reflecting pool at Ground Zero.

Six people, including two Long Islanders, were killed, and more than a thousand people were injured in the lunchtime bombing on Feb. 26, 1993, when a truck carrying about 1,200 pounds of explosives detonated inside a parking garage under the north tower. The explosion created a five-story crater and caused thousands to be evacuated.

John DiGiovanni of Valley Stream, and Monica Rodriguez Smith of Seaford, who was pregnant, were killed, along with Robert Kirkpatrick, Stephen Knapp, William Macko and Wifredo Mercado.

An FDNY bagpipe and drum band played “Amazing Grace’’ as more than a dozen family members stood quietly bowing their heads in silence to mark the 12:18 p.m. bombing. The names of the victims were then recited by several family members.

“I think of my dad every day,” said Michael Macko, 51, of Bayonne, New Jersey, whose father William Macko worked as an engineer in the north tower. “It has become a part of me.”

For some who attended Friday’s ceremony, the annual tradition was a chilling reminder of the continued possibility of terrorism on U.S. soil.

“My brother-in-law Stephen Knapp was killed. He now has five grandchildren,” said Judy Shirts, 58, of Staten Island. “I was telling my nephew before the ceremony that his grandfather died here and that there are evil people who want to kill us . . . It makes me angry. It never gets easy and the hatred never goes away.”

Several men connected to Islamic extremist terrorist cells were convicted of the bombing, which took place eight years before the attack that destroyed the World Trade Center buildings and killed nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001.

Ramzi Yousef, considered the mastermind of the 1993 bombing, is currently imprisoned for life in solitary confinement at a federal supermax facility in Colorado.

The laptop on which it is believed Yousef plotted the bombing is included in the exhibits at the National September 11th Memorial and Museum at Ground Zero.

“I hope he never gets out and sees the light of day,” Shirts said of Yousef.

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