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New York remembers 1993 WTC victims

From Phil Hirschkorn
CNN New York Bureau

A fragment of the memorial to the 1993 victims that was destroyed in the September 11 attacks.
A fragment of the memorial to the 1993 victims that was destroyed in the September 11 attacks.

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John DiGiovanni
Bob Kirkpatrick
Steven Knapp
Bill Macko
Wilfred Mercado
Monica Rodriguez Smith

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Families of the six people killed in the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center solemnly gathered Wednesday at memorials commemorating the 10th anniversary of their relatives' deaths.

The occasion was marked by a mass at historic St. Peter's Church in Lower Manhattan and a moment of silence at Ground Zero at 12:18 p.m., the same time the truck bomb exploded February 26, 1993.

Four of the six people killed in the attack worked for the World Trade Center's owner, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Most of the victims were having lunch in their basement office, adjacent to the parking garage where terrorists parked their explosives-laden van.

Bob Kirkpatrick, 61, Steven Knapp, 47, and Bill Macko, 57, were mechanical supervisors for the transportation agency. Monica Rodriguez Smith was Macko's secretary. All were killed in the bombing.

The fifth and sixth victims were Wilfred Mercado, 37, who worked for the Windows on the World restaurant atop the North Tower and was checking in food deliveries in the basement, and John DiGiovanni, 45, a dental salesman who was in the parking garage when the bomb exploded.

Another thousand people suffered injuries. It took 11 hours to evacuate some 50,000 people from the complex.

The blast from the homemade 1,500-pound urea-nitrate bomb blew a hole five stories deep and half-a-football field wide. The explosion badly damaged the tower's inner support beams and caused $500 million in property damage. But the twin towers were repaired, cleaned, and reopened in less than a month.

The 10th anniversary of the 1993 bombing on Wednesday refocused attention on the 1993 victims' families, who never received the outpouring of public or financial support shown to the nearly 3,000 families victimized in the second -- and far more destructive -- attack September 11, 2001, when two hijacked airliners were crashed into the 110-story twin towers, destroying them and five surrounding buildings.

Streets are blocked following the first attack on the World Trade Center.
Streets are blocked following the first attack on the World Trade Center.

Private charities alone have doled out hundreds of millions of dollars in cash assistance to the September 11 families.

"The families of 9/11 victims suffered tragic losses and there's no begrudging of anything that is done for them," said Michael Macko, one of Bill Macko's four children. Their ailing mother has lived off a dwindling worker's compensation payout.

"We would just like to be included, because we also lost loved ones in the same place, in the hands of the same people. The only difference is the dates," said Macko, publicity director for the Saks Fifth Avenue department store. He has emerged as a spokesman for the 1993 families.

Last year, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, with Macko at his side, proposed federal legislation to grant the 1993 families access to the multibillion dollar Special Victims Compensation fund established in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

About 250 families have sued the Port Authority for damages, claiming the agency was negligent by failing to implement a security consultant's recommendation to close the parking garage to public traffic.

Mercado's daughter, Yvette, is one of the plaintiffs. She was just 10 years old when her father dropped her off at school for the last time.

"I expected to get home and hear that my daddy was OK, that he called from his office just to say, 'Don't worry, I'm OK.' And I didn't get that," she said.

In two separate jury trials in Manhattan federal court, half a dozen men were later convicted of direct roles in the bombing. Mamed Salameh, Ahmad Ajaj, Mahmud Abouhalima and Nidal Ayyad were found guilty in March 1994.

In November 1997, Ramzi Yousef was convicted of masterminding the plot, and Eyad Ismoil was convicted for driving the rented Ryder truck into the garage.

Each man was sentenced to 240 years in prison, or one year for every year of expected life they deprived their victims.

A granite fountain memorial to the 1993 victims, dedicated two years after the attack, stood on the Trade Center plaza directly above where the truck bomb exploded. It was pulverized when the twin towers collapsed.

The agency overseeing remembrance and rebuilding at the site, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., will choose an architectural land use plan for the 16-acre site Thursday.

Plans for a permanent September 11 memorial include honoring victims of the 1993 attack.

"It's important that you stay in everyone's mind and remind people and go to meetings and say to people, 'Hey, remember to include us,'" Macko said.

CNN's Jamie Colby and Ryan Gowing contributed to this report.

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