The anniversary of the September 11 attacks brings back a lot of powerful memories for people. Memories filled with anger, pain and a terrible sense of loss.
For some there is another emotion to deal with as well.
The feeling is called survivor's guilt. That sense of ‘Why did I survive such a terrible situation when so many others did not?’
For one Chicago man, sharing his story with others has played an important part in his healing process.
“I still have survivor's guilt,” Don Basco said. “It's not as substantial. I don't feel it as much as I did initially.”
But it's a feeling Don Bacso said he will probably always have with him.
On September 11, 2001 he was on the 57th floor of Tower One, on a one week business assignment.
“I just remember the impact, the explosion coming through the building,” Basco said. “I remember the building swaying from the impact so high. I remember thinking to myself you know, this is it.”
But Don's instincts kicked in, and they saved his life.
“When you're a child you're taught, when there's a fire, an emergency, take the stairs. For some reason it resonated through my head that day, take the stairs, take the stairs,” Basco said. “So I immediately went, for me, being on the 57th floor, I asked, ‘Where's the nearest stairwell?’ Myself and about five other people proceeded to the nearest stairwell.”
He still wonders why he got out when so many others did not.
“I feel like I was being looked after that day,” Basco said. “Through the grace of somebody, angels, or somebody of a higher power was looking over me that day. And I made the right decisions.”
During the past ten years the emotional scars have faded a bit, perhaps in part because Don has shared his story at numerous schools.
“I remember when I first started speaking about it, I couldn't get through a speech,” Basco said. “When I first started talking about it, I was too emotional, but as you go on, you start speaking about it more, it helps you get through it there's still key times where I'll hit something and it just tears at you.”
Don has also talked to his two sons about what he survived.
“They can see every year how emotional I get about it. They can see every year at events when I speak that I get emotional about it,” Basco said. “My oldest son, you know, he kind of gave me a compliment the other day, he said, you know, when you're too old to tell the story I'd like to tell it for you.”
Don was able to go to New York on the 5th anniversary, and this year he really wanted to take his wife and two sons, to show them first hand where his life changed. But unfortunately, due to a conflict, they can't go this year.