2002-09-07 / Sports

Terrorists Turned A

Peaceful Event Into Horror
By Elio Velez

By Elio Velez

The Olympics caused a swoon in this town when New York City was named one of the two U.S. finalists in the 2012 Olympics.

In the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany, (Germany was not united until 1990) world gathered in record numbers to participate, attend and watch the Olympics on television. It was supposed to be a peaceful event that would celebrate the athlete. For eight days, it was an outstanding event.

But on September 5th, it would turn out to be anything but peaceful. The event was overshadowed by a growing menace that clouds America and the world today.


At 5:00 a.m. on September 5th, Palestinian terrorists who called themselves Black September invaded Israel’s living quarters in the Olympic Village and quickly killed two athletes and held 9 athletes and coaches hostage.

Moshe Weinberg, who shouted for his teammates, "Boys, get out!" was the first to be killed. As bullets railed him, Moshe’s outburst led to six athletes escaping from the building.

A world audience heard reports of German police and Olympic officials trying to figure out how to resolve the situation to which they were clearly not trained for.

The terrorists wanted 200 Palestinians to be freed by Israel. This was a response to the Six Day War in 1967 when Israel occupied lands in the West Bank. Haven’t you noticed that even today, the news of terrorists’ plots or actions all refer to events in the Middle East?

Negotiators talked to the terrorists and the demands were for two helicopters to fly the hostages and terrorists to the airport at Furstenfeldbruck at 10:30 p.m. German police told the pilots on the plane that the Israeli hostages would be rescued. It never happened.

German sharpshooters fired on the two terrorists and one of the Israeli hostages as they were walking back from the planes. In the ensuing firefight, the Arabs killed the Israelis that got out of the helicopter and fired inside of the helicopters. Five of the eight terrorists were killed. All of the hostages were killed.

The developments were relayed to the viewing public by ABC Sports anchor Jim McKay, who reported with a grace under pressure and professionalism that was remarkable. But the moment McKay received the news from his earpiece, he said the hardest thing he has ever done in the television.

"They’re all gone."

And the public knew.

The events of September 5, 1972 have been mostly forgotten but the sports world wasn’t the same. The innocence was gone and tighter security became the norm. The Olympics went on but even today, Olympic officials will not talk about those events. It’s as those deaths were only a sidenote to another successful Olympics. But ABC and the families and friends involved or somewhat related to the events was remembered by the documentary that was shown on ABC last week. So at least some of the media doesn’t forget.

After so many years, security began to lessen but the events of September 11, 2001 heightened the attention placed on what terrorists will do to disrupt a society and a nation. The world of sports also found out that they were not immune to the events of the world.

As the struggle for peace continues, September 11th becomes a more important day to remember, honor and pray. And never forget.

Until next week, Peace and God Bless America!

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