the red bandannaTHE RED BANDANNA
by Tom Rinaldi

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When Welles Crowther was a young boy, his father gave him a red handkerchief for his back pocket. Welles kept it with him that day and every day to come; it became a fixture and his signature.

Years later, Welles took a Wall Street job on the 104th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. On 9/11, Welles’s parents had no idea what happened to him. In the unbearable days that followed, they came to accept that he would never come home. But the mystery of his final hours persisted. Eight months after the attacks, however, Welles’s mother read a news account from several survivors, badly hurt on the 78th floor of the South Tower, who said they and others had been led to safety by a stranger, carrying a woman on his back, down nearly twenty flights of stairs.  After leading them down, the young man turned around and went back up.

The survivors didn’t know his name, but despite the smoke and panic, one of them remembered a single detail clearly: he was wearing a red bandanna.

The Red Bandanna could very well become one of those classic books that are handed down through generations, for more than any book I have read in a very long time it convincingly tells the story of how great men and women become great—how cultural, community, and spiritual drives can develop that inner character that will make the world a better place. . . . Every first responder will want to read this book, every high school and college English teacher will want to assign it, and every thoughtful reader will give it to someone they love.” —Dennis Smith, retired FDNY firefighter, author of Report from Engine Co. 82

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