The Plaque at the Rome Airport
Ever since my friend got killed in a terrorist attack at the Rome Airport on December 17th, 1973, I've felt like his story wasn't told. This guy never got his due in life. At the very least, I've always felt I should write a book about it, or do a documentary. Not that it's anymore important than what happens to anyone else, but there's something about injustice on this scale that calls for a response.
No, I'm not talking about revenge or anything in the legal system or any of that. I just felt the guy deserves to have people know. To have some record of what happened to him. I mean this was a great human being. I knew him from when I was in grade school to when he died during his sophomore year at Stanford. We were great friends and band-mates.
He was killed on a Pan Am flight that had stopped in the airport in Rome. Below is a little synopsis of what Walter Chronkite had to say that night on the CBS Evening News. It's always surreal to lose someone close to you, but reading about it in Newsweek? Now that was weird.
Recently, I found out that there is a plaque in the Rome Airport honoring one of the Italians killed in this attack. You can make out a few words about terrorism and the date December 17th, 1973.It makes me feel better. There's a slight feeling of "I guess it really did happen", but there's also the permanence - the idea that somehow this incident has not just faded completely from view. This attack affected me as much as 9/11 affected many Americans.
Recently I've begun writing about my hitchhiking years, and it's really put me through changes. I figured out the reason: I started those adventures in 1972, little knowing I was a year away from this event that would change me forever. It feels odd to go back to who I used to be, but it's been over 30 years. I think I'm just about ready to return to my old self. At least I hope so. Palestinian Guerrilla Attack / Rome Airport (CBS) from the Vanderbilt Television News Archive