PALM HARBOR, Fla. - For Anne Koster, September 11th may have been 20 years ago Saturday, but it still hurts.
"It was a grueling day and I can tell you right now how it happened, as if it was yesterday," she told FOX 13’s Mark Wilson.
Koster was working on the 81st floor of the World Trade Center's Tower One when the first plane struck. She called her husband Dale, told him she loved him, grabbed her friend Susan, and joined the mad rush down the stairwell to get out.
Anne and Susan made it halfway down, to the 44th floor, before Susan had to stop. She needed to rest. But something told Anne to keep going.
That was the last time she saw Susan, who was one of the more than 1,600 people to die in the World Trade Center collapse.
"So it hurts," Koster said. "I guess it was my asthma, my mom, and an angel on my shoulder telling me to get out."
Her survivor guilt weighs on her deeply, which is why she takes every chance she gets to honor the memory of those who died and those who saved her. She speaks often at firehouses, schools and community centers and has been asked to lay the wreath at the 9/11 memorial ceremony Saturday in Palm Harbor at Curlew Hills Memorial Gardens.
"The kids today, they’re not going learn about this in the history books. They need to taught about this," Koster continued with a tear in her eye.
The most important lesson out of this? "To keep freedom free," she added. "To keep freedom free."