I can remember when hijacking a plane to Cuba was a meme. This is before there were such things as memes. This was a time when hijacking a plane was even played for laugh on TV shows. We didn't call the desperate bad guys who committed this crime terrorists. At that time, we were still somewhat amused by the idea that one bad guy could reroute air traffic at gunpoint.
Thirty years ago, the idea of victims of hijacking being anything but inconvenienced was hard to frame. Pan Am Flight 73 may have changed that. Suddenly, we started talking about "survivors." No more free trips to Havana. It wasn't a question about "when" you would reach your destination, but "if."
Then there was September 11, 2001. Terrorist demands were no longer the currency. No money. No hostage exchange. No calls for the release of political prisoners. Just carnage. Political statements were being made via body count. In one day, box cutters and jet aircraft became weapons. Not long after that, shoes and underwear became potential threats. Air travel was changed forever. Life in the United States changed in the form of concrete barriers and metal detectors and the Patriot Act. The price of freedom was long lines and more questions.
Before that, however, there was Timothy McVeigh. He took a rental truck full of fertilizer and parked it in front of the federal building on April 19, 1995. He lit a fuse and blew it up, taking the lives of one hundred sixty non-combatants, including nineteen children in a daycare center located inside that building. Ryder trucks were now on the anti-terror watch list. Maybe they could have taken a hint from the rental van that was used to try and blow up the World Trade Center back in 1993, but no one wants to have to go through a security check to rent a U-Haul.
The tragedy in Nice this past Thursday will most certainly cement any and all concerns and fears people have about trucks and terrorism. Eighty-four dead. Yes, the driver carried a pistol, but he didn't need it. It didn't save him. The truck did all its terrible damage. It didn't need to explode. Twenty-five tons moving at thirty miles an hour can do a horrible amount of damage. There are a lot of trucks out there.