Man in the Red Bandana
Last Sunday marked the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack on New York City and Washington, D.C. It was a horrible day, filled with death for thousands and with painful memories for thousands more. In the midst of this great tragedy, signs of hope managed to break through.
There was the cross miraculously assembled from melted I-beams in the World Trade Center.
There was the heroism of Todd Beamer whose decisive “let’s roll” brought down Flight 93 in Shanksburg, PA before it could crash into the Capitol or the White House. There was the amazing account of Genelle Guzman, the last person pulled out of the World Trade Center wreckage alive. She encountered an angel under the rubble who sparked her return to Christ.
One of the greatest stories is that of Welles Crowther, the man in the red bandana. Welles was a 24-year-old equities trader who always longed to be a firefighter. On September 11, 2001 he got his chance. He was on the 78th floor of the South Tower when the plane hit. Surviving the impact, he led scores of people through the chaos to the safety of a stairwell where they managed to escape. He kept going back for others and was in the process of doing so when the building collapsed on him claiming his life.
For a long time his parents did not know of his heroism. They simply knew they had lost their son on 9/11. Then witnesses began to talk of a rescuer with a red bandana around his face. Welles’ parents immediately recognized the trademark which had been his since childhood. As the survivors told their stories, it became clear that on 9/11 Welles finally got his wish to rescue people like the firefighters he longed to emulate. He took charge in a calm voice, giving clear instructions to help people get away. And he kept going back.
There are several things in Welles Crowther’s life that bear mentioning:
· The shaping of his early life around firehouses and on sports teams prepared him for a time of crisis.
· His trusty red bandana kept him going through the smoke and debris.
· He kept going back.
His example has inspired thousands of people since to keep going back for those in need. Man-in-the-Mirror Ministries even sponsored a campaign called “The Order of the Red Bandana,” distributing them to men who vowed to go after any of their fellow men who were struggling in any way.
Just recently a couple of films were made about Welles Crowther and his red bandana. One is a biopic from ESPN which can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWKPjSirbcU.
Another is a soon-to-be-released documentary narrated by Gweneth Paltrow. You can find more about the film at http://maninredbandana.com/.
In times of great crisis many people run from danger. But some return to it again and again in order to save others. How’s your red bandana quotient?