Highlighting a Hero: Welles Crowther

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was sitting in Ms. Twyman’s 6th grade class. She was a mean old bird, so when she walked in the classroom crying we all knew something was wrong but we did not even come close to comprehending the magnitude. If you were alive during 9/11 and were above the age of 5 you know what I’m talking about. Every single one of you can remember where you were, what you were doing and the feeling that someone kicked you straight in the gut. The World Trade Centers, and America, were under attack.

Every year on September 11th, the first thing I do when I wake up is turn on this short documentary about my man Welles Crowther. After watching this video and shedding a few tears, I think about the courage, the selflessness and the heart that this young man had.


Here’s a summary of what earned him the name, “the man in the red bandana.”

On September 11, 2001, minutes after United Airlines Flight 175 struck the South Tower between floors 78 and 85 at 9:03 a.m. Crowther called his mother from his office at 9:12 a.m., leaving the message, “Mom, this is Welles. I wanted you to know that I’m OK.” Crowther made his way to the 78th floor sky lobby, where he encountered a group of survivors, including a badly burned Ling Young, who worked on the 86th floor in New York’s Department of Taxation and Finance. Young had been one of about 200 people waiting at a bank of elevators to evacuate when the plane hit the tower and among the few survivors. Crowther, carrying a young woman on his back, directed them to the one working stairway. The survivors followed him 17 floors down, where he dropped off the woman he was carrying before heading back upstairs to assist others. By the time he returned to the 78th floor, he had a bandana around his nose and mouth to protect him from smoke and haze. He found another group of survivors, which included AON Corp. employee Judy Wein, who worked on the 103rd floor and was in pain from a broken arm, cracked ribs and a punctured lung. According to Wein, Crowther assisted in putting out fires and administering first aid. He then announced to that group, “Everyone who can stand, stand now. If you can help others, do so.” He directed this group downstairs as well. As occupants of the Tower headed for the street, Crowther returned up the stairs to help others.He was last seen doing so with members of the FDNY before the South Tower collapsed at 9:59 a.m.

I think to myself, what am I doing? I think of all the little fights I get into with my friends and my family. All the times I complain about some bullshit that I won’t even think about 5 minutes from that time. I think we all need to live life a little more like Crowther. Not only a successful business man, but he had dreams of later joining the FDNY.

I think about how the word ‘hero’ is thrown around like its some ordinary word and how if you were to search the textbook definition of hero you would, or at least you should, find these images.

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With the media and pretty much everyone in general being glass half empty, it’s hard to understand that there are good people out there. There are people out there with a fine moral compass, people out there that will do right over wrong and people out there who will help no if’s and’s or buts. Not everybody is an asshole, not everybody is a racist and not everybody is out to get you. I love the United States and right now I feel like I’m not really allowed to say that and to me, thats beyond fucked up. I love the United States because of people like Welles. People like Welles make this the best god damn country in the world and I am not ashamed to say that. One day I hope to be half the man that Welles was. Rest easy brother, I’ll never forget.

Now, Toby, spin that shit.

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