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Not All Heroes Wear Capes

Honoring the Man in the Red Bandana


Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash


18 lives for the cost of one. The mystery man, revealed as 24-year-old Welles Crowther, risked his life to save numerous lives during the Sept. 11 attack in 2001. Over 2,700 people died during the collapse of the Twin Towers. According to Newsmax, Crowther is considered “A hero out of a comic book,” giving him the alternative title of the Red Bandana. He wore a red handkerchief around his face, blocking out the smoke while saving people from the Twin Towers. Crowther ran up and down the stairs to help evacuate people from the building and guided victims to safety. He climbed over 78 floors and unfortunately ended up passing away for the sake of helping others. People took notice of his selfless actions and decided to find a way to honor Crowther.


The tragic day left many mourning for their loved ones. Crowther, the captain of his high school lacrosse team, and lacrosse player for Boston College, inspires people all over the world. As a tribute to him, Boston City decided to give recognition to the lacrosse alumni by dedicating a football game to Crowther. 


Once a year, Boston College plays a football game in honor of the “Man in the Red Bandana.” For this event, the Boston College fans wear red handkerchiefs around their heads while the football players have jerseys with a custom red bandana print. With the back of the jersey reading, “For Welles,” it addresses that the game is played in honor of him. Everyone gathers at the stadium to listen to the inspirational story of Crowther. This tradition is exceedingly meaningful for the college and other people who lost a loved one during the catastrophic event of 9/11.


Crowther inspires the football team to play at their very best for that night. The football team began this tradition in 2011, making it official in 2014, and has not let go of it ever since. 


“What it really represents, and what it means, is everything,” Boston College football captain Marcus Valdez said. 


Crowther’s actions were described as courageous and selfless, especially to survivors, such as Judy Wein and Ling Young. Wein, being one of the only survivors to escape the attack, could not believe she made it out alive, let alone be saved by a stranger. Another survivor, Young, a hard working immigrant who worked for the World Trade Center, is thankful every day to be alive and is beyond grateful to have been saved by Crowther.  


“He [Crowther] saved my life,” Young said. “He'll always be with my heart and always be with me.” 


Although many people’s lives were saved, Crowther was lost, and his family grieved over him. 22-year-old, Allison Crowther, mother of Crowther, lost her son.


“It's not just the anniversary, it's every day,” A. Crowther said. “But you just kind of focus on the good that you can try to make come into the world.” 


The Crowther family has learned to accept his death and took it as a lesson to always be kind and help others. The family travels around the country to share his story and teach others about the importance of helping others.


Not only did the football team commemorate his actions, but many other people wanted to honor him in numerous ways. Volunteers began an annual Red Bandana Run to honor Crowther and the people lost during the 9/11 tragedy. The 5k run at Boston College is held on campus around October for those who want to gather and take the time to remember. 


The story of Crowther touches many and influences people to do better for others. His brave actions changed the lives of countless people, teaching others to be grateful for living every day. The community is more than welcome to commemorate Crowther and his generous behavior for the better of the world.

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Andy Poll

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