1993 WTC Bombing Remembered Through a Glass Fragment

A historical image shows the destroyed parking garage of the North Tower after the bombing in 1993. In a separate image to the left, a person holds up a window glass fragment recovered after the bombing.
Window glass fragment recovered after the Feb. 26, 1993, World Trade Center bombing by FEMA responder Harold Edward Spedding, Gift of Daniel Sassa in remembrance of those lost in the 1993 and 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. Photo by 9/11 Museum Collections staff.

Last year, the 9/11 Memorial Museum accepted a small fragment of green-tinted window glass into its collection. But this seemingly quotidian artifact had a more than 20-year journey to the 9/11 Memorial Museum and tells a critical story of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

The glass fragment originally belonged to Federal Emergency Management Agency responder and disaster specialist Harold Edward Spedding.

Spedding, who served a lengthy career in law enforcement with the New Jersey State Police before assuming a position with FEMA, responded to the World Trade Center shortly after the bombing on Feb. 26, 1993. Sifting through the debris, he recovered this piece of window glass and hand-etched its origin: “A remnant of #1 World Trade Center | February 26, 1993 | Was a piece of exterior window.”

Glass fragment recovered by Harold Edward Spedding.

Following Spedding’s passing in June 2016, Daniel Sassa, a volunteer firefighter and filmmaker, acquired the the glass fragment – along with a construction sign from the recovery and reconstruction effort and eight photos documenting the destruction of the 1993 bombing – from Spedding’s son at an estate sale in southern New Jersey. When asked about the items, Sassa replied, “I knew they belonged in the museum’s collection.” The items were accepted in 2017.

Sassa is the nephew of Michael E. Roberts, a 31-year-old firefighter who was killed when responding to the World Trade Center with FDNY Engine Company 214 on Sept. 11. He has devoted himself to researching the construction and daily life of the original World Trade Center and has amassed a rich collection of artifacts and documents that trace this early history. Sassa’s research has culminated in a book, “The World Trade Center: Construction of An American Icon,” which was published in January 2018 and contains nearly 300 color photographs which depict the construction of the Twin Towers.

Sassa has previously made two other donations to the permanent collection, including a notebook binder titled “The Port of New York Authority: World Trade Center Study: Preliminary Engineering Report” from June 1960, an FBI “Wanted” poster for 1993 bombing conspirator, Ramzi Yousef, and a 7 World Trade Center baseball cap commemorating its opening day in 1987.

By Christine Murphy, External Affairs Project Coordinator and Executive Assistant, 9/11 Memorial & Museum

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