By George Capsis

Everybody has a 9/11 story; here is mine…

I was working as a consultant for the United States Council for International Business, and there was a going to be a conference way up on one of the higher floors of Building One of the World Trade Center. I toyed with the idea of attending the meeting, but an opportunity to attend a much fancier trade conference in Colorado Springs was offered. I chose that instead, and arrived there on the afternoon of September 10th.

The following day I awoke in my hotel room, showered and dressed, and made my way to the first floor where I expected to see the early bustle of the conference, only to be met by silence and TV-like sounds coming from an auditorium off the lobby. I discovered a transfixed audience watching a passenger plane fly slowly into the World Trade Center building at just about where the conference for my New York meeting was to have taken place.

FOR ALMOST THREE DECADES, THE ORIGINAL TWIN TOWERS of the World Trade Center was an iconic landmark on the New York City Skyline prior to the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Photo by Suzanne Poli.

It was almost the end of our Colorado conference as well; it took so many hours of TV viewing and calling families. But it would have been difficult to reschedule that important Colorado event that had attracted international trade specialists from around the world. The hosts hesitantly talked about the attack, not knowing how to deal with the all-powerful U.S. being brought to its knees by a handful of religious fanatics…

At the formal start of the Colorado conference I shook hands with smiling representatives from a kaleidoscope of nations, including some from Muslim countries. (Later it was said that the devout suicidal Muslim crew had been promised 100 virgins as their reward.)

It took two days to get a nightmarish flight back to New York where I discovered a strange gray blanket of ash in the garden. 

But we are not finished with my 9/11 story…

The events of that day were, and still are, too seemingly unreal and nightmare-like to be easily accepted; and still, to this day, a stream of conspiracy theories flow like thin green acid everywhere.

One day Dusty announced that I would have a visit from a group of lawyers that had joined together in support of a (national) formal conviction that a rogue element of our government knew of the Muslim contingent training in U.S. pilot schools and allowed it to continue to use the final event to enable the U.S. to commit to a war with who they considered to be Muslim fanatics.

The lawyers filled the room. They were not New York lawyers in navy blue suits, but lawyers in brown plaid from innocent places like Kansas—looking at a slick New Yorker who could obviously not be trusted. I found myself saying, “God sent you here,” because in 1967 an engineer and I had driven to Pittsburg to visit with architect Isumuro Yamasaki, the designer of the World Trade Center, as my company Robinson, Capsis, Stern had been awarded the contract to design their exhibit. The star of that exhibit was a towering model of the yet to be built World Trade Center.

The lawyers who visited my home had “proof” that WTC Building One had been lined with explosive charges because every time a floor collapsed there was a puff of smoke at each window. They listened silently as I reported what Yamasaki told us regarding the attack and the construction of the building: that the floors were slabs of reinforced concrete and the “charges” were only the smoking gases being pushed out by the falling floors.

As you may read in this issue, the debate is not over.

Leave a Reply