Seniors from Bishop Noll, Andrean and Marquette listened to a 9/11 survivor speak of his experience on that fateful day last Wednesday, Sept. 29 during Student Resource Time.
Don Bacso, of Dyer, was working on the 57th floor of the World Trade Center Tower 1 when the first plane hit.
He began his speech by explaining he was a businessman and had a week-long business trip scheduled to work in the World Trade Center. He took the first flight out to New York and when he arrived, he booked a hotel five blocks away from the World Trade Center.
On September 11, he went to work early on what he described to be a “beautiful warm day.” “When the first plane impacted the tower, I was lifted up and put back down,” Basco said. “The building swayed violently and my first thought was, ‘What the heck is going on here?’” Although he was unsure about what exactly was going on, he knew he needed to get out of the building. He found an exit and began making his way down the stairs.
He described that he heard metal beams creaking in the walls as he was making his way down the 57 floors. At one point he got off of the stairwell and found a window. Bacso stated, “I could see dark smoke and paper raining down looking up and debris below.” He headed to the closest stairwell and resumed making his way down to exit the building. As he was making his way down the stairs with many others, people began to say they were hit by a commercial jet plane. Everyone continued going down the stairs in a calm manner. The injured were also carried down the stairs past those who were uninjured.
Then, tower 2 was hit. The stairwell shook while people screamed and cried. Everyone kept making their way down the stairs and the smell of jet fuel filled the air. At one point thick grey smoke filled the stairwell. A security guard moved everyone to a different stairwell with no smoke to lead them to safety. They were escorted out of the building and were told to run.
He made it out of the building and back to his hotel. At 9:57 a.m. tower 2 collapsed. Soon after, tower 1 collapsed. By then he had found a public phone to reassure his wife that he was alive. Him and his co-workers traveled to their center office and from there they drove 14 hours to get back to their families. He arrived home at 4:00 a.m. Bacso said as soon as he got home he embraced his wife and cried saying, “I thought I would never see you again.” As time passed by, his friends and family visiting helped him with the healing process.
He stated that this traumatic event caused him to feel many different emotions. He felt angry at the people who were behind the 9/11 attacks. He felt sad for the thousands of families who lost loved ones. He felt guilty because he survived and others did not. One positive thing he felt was he was proud of the patriotism of Americans after 9/11 occurred. He said that stores sold out of American flags and people were strongly united despite race, religion, etc. “I miss the America of September 12,” Basco said. “All of us should try to live again like we did on September 12th.”
Bacso said he became a motivational speaker to remind people of the events of 9/11 so the heroes of that day will never be forgotten.
Some things that stood out to Julie Wedryk, a senior, was the emotion he portrayed in his story. She explained that his personal story gave a better perspective on what people in the building during 9/11 actually experienced.
“I learned how something like 9/11 has affected this country and how the stories are getting passed down,” Wedryk said.
Senior, Kayode Olaoye, believed that this was a strong, powerful speech that reached out students in a profound way despite not being alive during 9/11.
Olaoye stated, “Although this man was living one of the most horrific moments of his life, he still managed to stay calm in the moment which required a strong amount of will power as well as bravery to keep going without knowing the outcome.”
“9/11 is a reminder of what America suffered, but showed our growth through the past 20 years. Unfortunately we as a country are still affected by this traumatic event and as a country we will still work together to overcome these tragedies,” said Olaoye.