On 11 September 2001, the world was shaken when nineteen Islamic militants associated with al-Qaeda hijacked four airplanes and attacked the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon building outside Washington, D.C. Around 3,000 people died in the terrorist attack. It would not be hard to imagine the condition inside the buildings when the attack took place. People must have rushed in haste to save their lives. But there was a man who stopped, to save others without caring about his own life.
The man is popularly known as the “Man in the Red Bandana” because he wore a red handkerchief as a protective mask, helping people escape in several trips up and down the staircase. Welles Crowther was a 24-year-old equities trader whose office was on the 104th floor of the South Tower. Welles Crowther acted courageously during the 9/11 attacks and he saved about 18 lives that day. The inspiring story of the man in the red bandana was not widely known till a documentary named “Man in Red Bandana”, directed by Matthew J. Weiss, released on 8 September 2017. The documentary spoke of Welles Crowther, one of the 9/11 heroes and how he acted like a firefighter to save the lives of others, depicting true humanity during his last hours. While saving the lives of the other people stuck in the attack, Welles Crowther gave up on his life. Fifteen years after the 9/11 attack, Jeff Crowther, the father of Welles Crowther talked about his loss in an interview saying, “It’s always there. I wouldn’t say it is eased, but I have learned how to live with it.”
Since the day forth, his life has been celebrated every year. Two years ago, Welles was the centerpiece of President Obama’s speech when a 9/11 museum was dedicated. A Welles Crowther charitable trust grants scholarships to students and a Red Bandana football game is hosted at Boston College where the audience was witnessed wearing a red bandana to honor Welles Crowther. An annual Red Bandana hero’s award is given out to students of the college. A Red Bandana Book and a Red Bandana Project will be initiated that will give lessons for character development, social and emotional learning for young people. Lessons on leadership, caring for others, teamwork, bridging divides, forgiveness and carpe diem have been developed for school and youth programs by educators of 30 to 40 years experience in their fields. The project has been started with the motive to make the youth aware and conscious of their surroundings and to make them prepared to save their and other people’s lives like Welles did.
The proud parents of Welles Crowther have been trying to cope with the death of their son, but the pain will never fade. They have been holding lectures to talk about love and forgiveness, but Alison cannot forgive the hijackers. Alison and Jeff came face to face with the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who confessed to their actions and hailed that they would do it again if they could. It was an excruciating experience for the parents to have heard the terrorists and that is why they cannot forgive them. Alison Crowther and Jeff Crowther demand justice for their innocent son and thousands of others who were killed in the attack.
The inspiring story of the man in the red bandana, a hero, will continue to motivate millions of people and his sacrifice shall never go waste.
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