15 years after 9/11, Portland man makes peace with father's death

Roughly 3,000 children lost their parents on 9/11, and for many, the trauma of that day followed them into adulthood.

Roughly 3,000 children lost their parents on 9/11, and for many, the trauma of that day followed them into adulthood.

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

“I just stood there for a while and let it come out. I was like, now I can go, now I can leave,” Van Auken told CBS News.

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The visit helped him finally make peace with his father's death. Van Auken was 12 years old on Sept. 11, 2001.
CBS News talked to Van Auken as the first anniversary approached. He was a rebellious 15-year-old with big plans.

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“I've had sort of my dream of being a doctor,” Van Auken said in 2002. “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.”

Today, 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.

Van Auken said he wants to do that for someone else.