It is September 10, 2012 and tomorrow marks 11 years since the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks. At 24, I mark this as a turning point moment in my life the same way my parents mark JFK’s assassination or my grandparents have marked Pearl Harbor. Tomorrow will be a different Sept 11th however. It will be a red bandana covered day and I will explain why a few paragraphs down.
As a former Valley Cottage kid, though I have not moved too far away, I remember that day as if it was yesterday not only for its horror and uncertainty but in a deeper way. I remember the way the hamlet seemed dark and too quiet. I saw vulnerability in my own father and his Valley Cottage Fire Department counterparts. A handful of them were on scene at the Trade Center before it collapsed and in the aftermath. These were big strong guys, they should be afraid of nothing, yet something had shaken them.
I remember the outpouring of patriotism and American flags that wrapped the landscape in a sea of red, white and blue. Every house had one flying and everyone seemed a lot nicer to each other. Even as an 8th grader, I watched enough of the morning news to know the world wasn’t a completely nice place full of rainbows and butterflies. People were patient and understood that we were all grieving in some type of way.
Now 11 years later, we are a nation that is less shaken only because we are always on guard. We are in a rough place economically and in many ways blame each other for the whole mess. The flags are gone from many places.
This year however, the flags will be replaced by red bandanas. Some may ask why a red bandana? Or may question its relation to gang colors but I promise you it has nothing to do with gangs. The red bandana will be the new American flag for Sept 11th remembrance and it stems from the heroics of a fellow Nyack grad.
The man in the red bandana is the story of Welles Crowther wearing a red bandana to cover his face as he led other World Trade Center workers out of the towers to safety before perishing in the collapse has become a story known across the country. It has been covered by countless national news outlets throughout the years, as well as becoming local legend in the Nyack area. Crowther wasn’t working as a firefighter or police officer that day, but at a desk at a financial company. He joined the efforts of the first responders, putting his training with Nyack Fire Department to work, and guided people down the stairs away from the building. He could have gone to safety himself but instead stayed inside to continue helping.
To honor heroes like Welles and the thousands of other people who gave their time or their lives at the World Trade Center, we will wear and place red bandanas everywhere we can tomorrow. They will represent the memory of those who gave their lives and their time at the World Trade Center. There are many other stories of heroism from that day and the days following and the red bandana honors them all.
Check out the event on Facebook, Red Bandana Day to see pictures of red bandanas all over the country and join in. Hang a red bandana at your house, office, apartment or even on your car to show your appreciation. http://www.facebook.com/events/358065437602647/