I’m among those for whom Tom Rinaldi wrote this book, and you may be as well. I’m also embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t previously heard of the legacy of Welles Crowther, the centerpiece of Rinaldi’s story. This is a magnificently written book, with a special texture to its cover that gives it a visceral feel to both hold and to read. It’s back jacket quote from Dennis Smith captures the essence of its brilliance:
The Red Bandanna is an elaboration and update of the ESPN special written several years ago by Rinaldi. The video can’t substitute for the emotions that will well up in you when you read about Welles, but it will give you an understanding of how he came to be celebrated as one of the many heroes helping their fellow men and women on that fateful morning of September 22, 2001.
Tracing the roots of Welles’ upbringing in lyrical and spellbinding fashion, Rinaldi recounts how President Obama came to single out this young finance worker and volunteer firefighter as emblematic of the resilience of the American people. Here is the video of the President’s remarks during the dedication of the 9-11 Memorial Museum in 2014:
When our son, Elliot, attended West Point and I became intimately familiar with the Academy’s history, I felt strongly that every American should be required to tour the facility. Upon finishing Rinaldi’s masterpiece today, I had the same feeling about this book. It should be required reading for every citizen.