A living monument


Students listen intently as Don Bacso spoke about his story on September 11 disaster. The assembly took place in the auditorium.

Michael Pucci, Author

Don Bacso, President of the School Board, visited Lake Central on Sept. 9 to inform the students of his experience as a survivor of the 9/11 attacks. Bacso shared emotional stories of that day and the many days after to help students gain a better understanding of 9/11.

“Thank you very much for being here today, and thank you to the teachers for allowing these young people to come and hear this. Most of you guys were about 2-3 years old, maybe not even that [old] when that when this event occurred 15 years ago. Today we are honored to have a great individual come and talk to us. He was in tower number two. His name is Don Bacso, and he is here today to tell you his account of what happened,” Mr. Thomas Clark, Social Studies, said.

The day before Bacso left on his business trip to New York City, where he would be working in the World Trade Center, he was attending a birthday party with his family. Bacso’s father was worried about him attending the trip because of the bombing at the World Trade Center in the past, but Bacso persuaded his dad everything would be alright.

“Don’t worry dad, lightning never strikes the same place twice,” Bacso said.

Little did Bacso know, and little did everyone know, that the biggest terrorist attack in U.S. history would take place in the next 48 hours.

“The 57th floor was my destination. I was working in a computer room on the southeast corner. I remember that morning. I was leaning back on the railing, when at 8:46 a.m., eastern standard time, American Airlines Flight 11 was travelling at 416 mph with 10 thousand gallons of jet fuel. It impacted my building at floors 92-96. I felt the thump when I was leaning against that railing, then the explosion. It was extremely loud, and it kept getting louder and louder,” Bacso said.

No one knew what was going on, but as time went on, Bacso realized his life was in danger.

“I said to myself, ‘I have to get out of this building,’ so I immediately ran out in the hallway where I ran into four other employees from the firm that I was in. Everyone looked like a deer in headlights,” Bacso said.

Once Bacso made his trip down the 57 flights of stairs, he reached ground level and made his way toward his hotel, away from the towers.

“Finally, in my hotel on the second floor, I found a set of payphones. I was about tenth in line, and I knew I had to be patient. It took me 20 minutes to finally get to the phone. When I called home, the phone rang a couple of times, then my wife answered and I said, ‘I’m okay I’m okay.’ She was crying. It was very emotional,” Bacso said.

Two days after the initial event, Basco and two women from Chicago rented a car and drove from New York City to Northwest Indiana. It took Bacso and the women 12 hours to get home to their families.