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'We Should Never Forget'

A businessman tells Somis School students of the loss of his wife and unborn child in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.

September 12, 2003|Fred Alvarez | Times Staff Writer

Edward Smith wanted to remind students Thursday about the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Not the one two years ago. But the one that preceded it a decade ago, the one that claimed the lives of his wife and unborn child.

So the Simi Valley resident asked the fourth-grade students at Somis School to stand during a ceremony to honor victims of the Sept. 11 assaults.

"That is the age my child would be today if they didn't bomb the World Trade Center the first time," said Smith, looking out over the 300 students clad in red, white and blue at the century-old Ventura County campus.

"That puts in perspective what they've taken away from us."

Amid the songs and tributes, the planting of trees and raising of monuments, Smith took a moment to remind families that the ache from terrorism's terrible blow goes back further than two years.

For the 41-year-old president and chief executive of SMTEK International, an electronics manufacturer in Moorpark, it goes back to the first attack in 1993, a terrorist bombing that killed six people and injured more than 1,000.

Among the dead was 35-year-old Monica Rodriguez, a dark-haired Ecuadorean who was a secretary at the Port Authority in New York.

She married Smith in 1990 and by early 1993 was seven months pregnant with their first child, a boy they had decided to name Eddie.

The couple spent their days preparing a nursery and shopping for baby furniture. And Smith spent as much time as he could singing and reading "Winnie the Pooh" books to his baby, or sometimes just listening to his heartbeat inside the womb.

A bomb blast tore apart what then seemed like a perfect dream.

Smith, a New York native who moved to California in 1997, told students Thursday that he saw the attack two years ago as a continuation of the one that shook his world.

He told them he has a picture of himself and his wife surrounded by friends at their wedding.

The first attack killed three of those people, he said, and the second killed everyone else.

Smith, who never remarried, praised the youngsters for doing their part to keep those memories alive, for holding a ceremony to honor the victims and planting two memorial crape myrtle trees in the school's rose garden.

"The key to it is we should never forget," Smith said.

"If we can show each other tolerance and caring, we will be a better world for it."

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