The courage and compassion of Welles Crowther, known after 9/11 as the “Man in the Red Bandana,” has inspired many people around the globe. But for the young men of the Nyack Boys Varsity Lacrosse team the connection to Crowther, a Nyack alum and former player, is both personal and profound.
The high school students were only one or two years old on Sept. 11 when Crowther, an equities trader and volunteer firefighter, gave his life so that others may live. But they know Welles' story and revere the young man who wore the No. 19 on the lacrosse field and carried his trusty red bandana since childhood.
That red bandana came to be a symbol of the 24-year-old’s heroism and sacrifice after survivor stories surfaced about the young man in the red bandana who appeared in the South Tower’s sky lobby on the 78th floor and calmly lead and carried people to safety.
The symbolism of the red bandana took special meaning on Monday when the team visited the 9/11 Memorial & Museum with Welles’ mother, Alison Crowther.
"Since the beginning of Welles' story coming out, Nyack has embraced Welles, his story and his inspiration," Alison Crowther said. "The lacrosse team has especially embodied Welles.They wear the No. 19 logo on their uniforms, on their helmets, and on their cleats...They all carry red bandanas."
A tour of the museum, a special educational program about Welles and all those who gave their lives on 9/11 to help others, and a moment of reflection at Welles' name on the South Tower parapet all helped to bring to life the ideals behind the red bandana.
"It really warms me to my core that these young men are inspired by Welles," Alison Crowther said. "And as one young player said, the bandana represents to him the kind of man he wants to become."
Alison Crowther said she learns something new each time she visits the museum or talks to young people about her son. This time, a 9/11 Museum tour guide told her of a third grader who once asked if the bandana itself was a source of power for Welles and not just a symbol of his heroism.
Welles' mother agreed that her son considered it a talisman of sorts.
I’m sure the bandana "was like his connection to his father," Crowther said. "I'm sure he was feeling a piece of his dad with him there in that moment."
By 9/11 Memorial Staff