Tulsa 9/11 Survivor Recalls The Day He Made It Out Alive

Thursday, May 15th 2014, 6:52 pm
By: News On 6

The dedication of the long-awaited 9/11 memorial has finally arrived.

The memorial museum is now open 24 hours a day for the families of the victims.

It opens to the public next Wednesday.

The museum is at the base of where the twin towers stood in Manhattan.

It includes portraits of every one of the nearly 3,000 people who died that day.

There also are some of the more memorable things about some of the rescuers, like Welles Crowther's red bandana.

He died while helping people to safety.

They all remember that bandana and say it represents a lot.

"It is our greatest hope that when people come here and see Welles' red bandana they will remember how people helped each other that day," his mother Alison Crowther said.

President Obama toured the museum with President and Mrs. Clinton.

A Tulsa man who made it out of the Twin Towers said the museum opening and every 9/11 anniversary to remind him of how blessed he is to be alive.

Tim Veldstra was inside the towers as the plane hit.

Today, he is not afraid of high rises -- his office is on 56th floor of Tulsa's Cityplex Tower.

He says looking at these images makes him feel one thing: Grateful.

"I don't have any fear, any bad dreams, any bad memories..." Veldstra said. "It's a great day to be alive. I have five grandchildren I didn't have then"

He was in New York for work when the unimaginable happened. We talked with Veldstra and his wife just days after.

"We were on a break," he said in 2001. "I was looking out the window to the south side. We just saw a bunch of debris falling out of the window like a garbage truck was turned upside down but a lot of that paper was on fire."

Like thousands of others, he took the stairs.

"When he was on the 21st floor going down the stairwell, he felt the second plane hit and they thought we are going to die," his wife said.

"I said, ‘Well, there went our building. At that point people were screaming," he said.

"I Remember the first time I saw that image just like everyone else remembers where they saw that image."

And 13 years later with the museum opening, it's another reminder.

"I have peace I know that is a gift from God," he said. "I just know it is but I don't have a tragic story. I'm alive I got out thank God."

Veldstra echoed the sentiments of former mayor Rudolph Giuliani when he said we will never understand why one person escaped and others didn't.

He was one of six Tulsans who escaped from the 61st floor.

The museum holds more than 10,000 artifacts to capture the events of September 11 and the lives that were lost.

Veldstra plans on taking his family to visit the museum the next time he is in New York City.