One Day in September chronicles the events of assault on the Israeli Olympic Team during the 1972 Munich Olympics. Inadvertently, it highlights how much more aware we are of violence 40 years later. Throughout the entire documentary, I found myself yelling at the Munich Police. "Don't go in there! The terrorists can see you!" or "What do you mean you don't know how many terrorists there are? Peter Jennings just mentioned it on air!" The Munich Games were the first designed to be televised live. The Munich Police Department was not designed for instantaneous communications. Therefore, ABC had better communications than German law enforcement.
While I find that unbelievable now, really, how do you know these things? When do you assume that terrorists are going to hold that many people hostage? Europe in the 1960s and 1970s was not really a quaint and peaceful place. This was the heyday of the IRA, the Baader-Meinhof Gang (another excellent movie on that one), and ETA claimed its first assassination in 1968. However, these were targeted attacks, quick assassinations or bombs exploded and the terrorists long gone. There had to be a first siege. A first event where the police knew about the event while it was ongoing. Munich was it.
It is difficult to think back to a time when there were no SWAT teams, no Jack Bauer-esque commandos ready to respond at a moment's notice. Sadly, we are living in an age where there is a need. It's hard to believe that there wasn't a standardized HazMat response until a fireball engulfed and leveled Crescent City, Illinois. Now, there are signs on the sides of every truck and train, and you hardly notice them. Some knowledge is gained the hard way.