Menomonee Falls, Wis., December 9, 2016 – The 6th grade students at St. Mary Parish School were not even born when the twin towers fell on 9/11. The day has become an important classroom history lesson where students learn not only about the tragedy but, the legacy of the many heroes of that day. The 6th grade students at St. Mary Parish School wrote letters to the parents of one such hero, Welles Crowther, or as he is now famously known as The Man in the Red Bandana. Crowther, a graduate of Boston College lost his own life that day while saving the lives of numerous others. In return, the students received a letter back from his parents as well as a package which included a note from the athletic director of Boston College that thanked them and said the letters were “acknowledged and celebrated” on campus. The package also included official red bandanas distributed at Boston College’s Red Bandana Game, which honors the life of Crowther.
Crowther has been the subject of several books and recognized for his selflessness and heroism. After Sept. 11, 2001 survivors published stories about the man wearing the red handkerchief that had saved their life. Crowther carried a red bandana from the time he was just six years old, wearing it under his lacrosse helmet and carrying it in his pocket wherever he went.
The students do not know a life before 9/11 and how much our world has changed since that day. Deanna Budney teaches social studies and religion at St. Mary Parish School and knew while 9/11 can be difficult to talk about with children, its lessons are many “Maybe the most important lesson of that day is of hope and our ability to triumph over tragedy,” said Budney. “It’s also a great way to look at and show appreciation for our modern day heroes. Crowley’s story is one of selflessness, bravery and heroism. In return, the students learned about how their words and actions can have a positive reaction… it has a ripple effect.” said Budney. “They were deeply interested in Crowther’s story and their appreciation for what he did shows in the words from their letters.”
“Every day before school my mom tells me to do my best and let God do the rest.” Matthew Lauer wrote in his letter to Crowther’s parents. “That day your son did his best. Most heroes wear a cape, but Welles wore his red bandana.”
“He was an amazing person,” Josie Pliszka wrote in her letter. “We should all be more like Welles, thinking of others before ourselves. Whenever I see a red bandana I will think of a true hero, Welles, Crowther.”
“Welles is a true hero because he cared for other people in need when they needed it most. It must be comforting knowing your son is a hero and that people thank God for his heroism daily, wrote another student, JJ Eagleeye. “Ever since I heard your story I asked my mom for a bandana. Every time see it I will think of Welles.”
The class was grateful to receive a message back from Alison Crowther, Welles’ mother. She thanked them for sending their letters. She wrote, “I have read them all and we are deeply touched. It means the world to us that Welles’ example impacts young people in many good and positive ways.”
For more information about this story please go to Boston College website