At first I thought the story was a hoax. I was chaperoning my daughter's high school band trip on spring break when I first heard the claim. A fellow chaperon was serious when he said that he thought that there was some validity to the incredible information posted on a Web site that purported to be the only official source of research the government hid from us.
In the past few years, I have learned not to trust everything found on the Web. This belief is especially true when the site owner claims to have the exclusive story. So I didn't even take the time to add to the site's visitor counter box.
I forgot about the story. But in the weeks leading up to the 5th anniversary of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, I discovered – to my complete amazement – that the story was not only being told, but several “influential” political experts put stock in it.
The new urban fantasy to which I refer is the claim that the twin towers were imploded by greedy business interests. The conspirators alleged goals were to collect large insurance payoffs, and then profit from building a new structure.
What I find more disturbing about this fantasy is the group's claim that a CNN poll suggests that almost 10% of the people in this country have doubts in the authenticity of the media and/or government report on the disaster. Has our society become so dazed by information that many can't differentiate truth from fiction?
There's an important message to be learned from the acceptance of this absurd urban legend. People want to believe in what they believe, despite the facts.
I wonder how many of the supporters of the WTC implode theory also believe all fire wall construction systems are equally safe? Perhaps they also believe that frame construction protects their families just as safely from 140 mph wind-blown projectiles as solid brick walls? And they might be the same experts who know that mold feeds and grows on block, brick, and stone.
In many of the 9/11 disaster commemorative events, speakers mentioned the hope that we learned from the sacrifice of the innocent victims. Thanks to the efforts of David Biggs, Ryan-Biggs Associates, we can. The Masonry Society has published the Review of Masonry Aspects of the WTC Disaster. The report provides our industry a unique insight on the disaster.
Biggs was part of the FEMA investigation team that examined the damage of the World Trade Center and the performance of masonry on the surrounding buildings. The report contains his personal observations of Ground Zero, as well as the manner with which the towers collapsed.
I've heard Biggs speak about his experience on the team. It was a moving and informative presentation. While it was an important learning experience, it's one we all hope is never repeated.
More importantly, thanks to his work and with your support, the masonry industry can and will provide safer structures to protect our future generations.
To order a copy of Biggs' book, go to www.masonrysociety.org.