For Christopher Walsh, as for most of today’s Scouts, 9/11 is a history lesson. The 17-year-old Life Scout from Nyack, N.Y., was just 8 months old on that dark day.
But Christopher has always felt a particular connection to one of the day’s biggest heroes: Welles Crowther, also from Nyack.
“In elementary school, in middle school, all throughout my childhood, I’ve heard about Welles Crowther,” Christopher told The Journal News. “I play soccer, and I’d always hear about the man in the red bandanna. For our soccer team we had a red bandanna game last year.”
When the time came for Christopher to plan an Eagle Scout service project, he didn’t have to think long. He would build a memorial to the man who had died while saving strangers — strangers who knew only that they had been saved by a man in a red bandanna.
Going back into the smoke
Welles Remy Crowther was just 24 on Sept. 11, 2001. He was in the 104th floor of the South Tower when the first plane hit.
Crowther led a group through the smoke to safety. Instead of leaving the building with them, he turned around and went back up the stairs to find others he could save.
Crowther’s body was found on March 19, 2002 — six months after the towers fell. It’s believed he saved at least 18 people.
It will surprise few to learn that Crowther was a Cub Scout and a Boy Scout in Troop 2 of Nyack, N.Y.
Honoring the man
The memorial at Nyack’s Memorial Park contains a piece of steel salvaged from the World Trade Center site.
The final touch will be a red bandanna Christopher received from Crowther’s parents. The bandanna will be dipped in a fiberglass resin and attached to the salvaged steel.
Before proceeding too far with planning, Christopher contacted Crowther’s parents. He wanted their permission to honor Crowther in this way.
“We said absolutely; it’s a beautiful idea,” Alison Crowther told The Journal News.
Crowther’s story becomes new book
A new, young-readers adaptation of Tom Rinaldi’s The Red Bandanna is available now. The book, by the award-winning ESPN reporter, introduces middle-grade readers to Crowther’s story.
You might consider the book as way to introduce young people to the tragedy of 9/11 in an accessible, age-appropriate way.