September 11th: A Child's Story

PORTLAND, OR. (WECP) - Roughly 3,000 children lost their parents on 9/11, and for many, the trauma of that day has followed them into adulthood.
Fifteen years later, CBS News' Brook Silva-Braga caught up with one of the children of 9/11.

Before Matt Van Auken moved to Portland, Oregon, from New Jersey, he finally did what he had long avoided and visited his father's name at the World Trade Center memorial.

"I just stood there for a while and let it come out," Van Auken said. "I was like, now I can go, now I can leave." The visit that finally helped him make peace with his father's death was twelve years after 9/11.

We first talked to Matt As the first anniversary approached. He was a rebellious 15 year old with big plans.

"I've had sort of my dream of being a doctor," Van Auken said. "I know my dad wanted me to succeed so he would have been happy to see me grow up and go through medical school and pass all my classes and just make a lot of money and be happy."

We asked him if his dream turned out? "It turned out," he said.

Today, Doctor Van Auken is in his final year of medical residency. But his reasons for practicing medicine have changed. Instead of a lucrative specialty, he decided to become a family doctor.

"The moments of healing after my father's passing were in the people who approached me and said man this sucks and sat with me," he said.

Matt says he found peace through daily meditation and yoga and annual letters to his dad. "Then I light the letter on fire and let it," Van Auken said, "I offer it away."

Last September, he wrote about his marriage to Jamie. This year, he'll share the news that they're expecting a baby.

"I'm going to be proud to tell them what kind of person their grandfather was, what he taught me," he said. "That's to me the foundation of this family that Jamie and I are building now."

Brook Silva-Braga, for CBS News, Portland, Oregon