The Red Bandanna
by Tom Rinaldi

American mythologist Joseph Campbell once described a hero as “someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself”. Welles Crowther became a hero by helping lead people out of the World Trade Centre during the 9/11 terrorists attacks more than 15 years ago. Instead of saving himself, as he could have, the Wall Street junior associate instructed people to follow him into the stairwell and down 15 floors. Then, telling everyone to continue heading for safety, he turned and headed back up because, one assumes, he wanted to find more survivors. Two women he saved have played instrumental roles in piecing together what happened during those desperate minutes. His mother, Alison Crowther, tracked them down after picking up on three words in a New York Times article on the tragedy: “a red handkerchief”. That piece of cloth identified her son. ESPN correspondent Tom Rinaldi has written a touching portrait of Crowther, who was given that red bandana by his father years before his death at the age of 24.