The Red Bandanna – A Life, A Choice, A Legacy. Tom Rinaldi. Penguin Publishing Group. September 2016. 224 pp. ISBAN#: 9781594206771.
Welles Crowther was an extraordinary yet ordinary guy! From September 11, 2001 to today and beyond, he is a true hero!
Tom Rinaldi, an ESPN correspondent, focuses on Welles’s background that led him to the selfless act of rescuing dozens of victims after the planes crashed into the World Trade Towers right up to the minute they fell. Our hero was fascinated with two areas – being an athlete and a firefighter, the latter like his father. He was a good student. Despite his ordinary physical build, he excelled in lacrosse and always wore the red bandanna his father gave him. Even when he began the job of being a junior associate in a Wall Street firm, he always kept the red bandanna in his pocket or on his desk. It didn’t matter to him how much he was teased about it’s out of place quality for a businessman. To Welles, it was his good luck talisman and later became the same for those who wished to honor this heroic character.
Rinaldi takes us through the teen and college years of Welles, with some very funny moments which are so normal for a student who was equally focused on study and fun.
So what makes a hero? The upshot is that heroes are ordinary people who move past circumstances of fear and formidable challenge to do what needs to be done, with no thoughts of grandeur or self-serving honor.
Rinaldi takes us through the moments after the 9/11 attack to the moments when initially no one knew what had become of Welles Crowther. But little by little, both before and after his body was found, individual recognized his photo and identified him as the guy who had led or carried each person down seventeen floors to the status of a rescued victim. His parents describe the memorials and eulogies as well as the waving of red bandannas that grew to symbolize the unforgettable act of a true hero! Tom Rinaldi has crafted an honorable and real memorial of the man to whom so many owed their lives and a tribute to what it means to be a true American in the worst of times! Wonderful book – a forever keeper!