My father and grandfather both graduated from Boston College…My late grandfather was class of 1939, and my father was class of 1978. To say BC was a part of my childhood is an understatement. As a matter of fact, one of my earliest memories is of my dad teaching me the word-for-word commentary from the historic hail mary pass during the 1984 BC vs. University of Miami game; “Doug Flutie goes back to pass, throws it to Phelan…TOUCHDOWN!!!” Yes, I could recite that like a parrot much to the amusement of my dad and his friends back when I was a mere preschooler.
My brother and I, however, both graduated from the University of Central Florida here in Orlando. So as soon as my dad found out that BC was going to play a game against UCF during the 2011 football season, he knew the whole family would HAVE to go. So we are going, this coming Saturday, with my entire family and a few friends too. I am looking forward to it, even though I am ultimately torn on who to root for. Of course, in the end, I have to root for UCF because I actually attended and earned my degree from them, but rooting against BC just isn’t in my nature. It’s just weird! Luckily my dad is very understanding about our allegiances. He knows if BC were playing any other team, we would be cheering them on.
What does this have to do with red bandanas? Well, as I’m sure you are aware, the 10th anniversary of September 11th is nearly upon us. It actually falls the day after this Saturday’s football game. And although there are many, many stories of heroes and heroic acts that came out of that day, there is one hero in particular that both BC and UCF fans will be joining together to commemorate and honor.
Welles Crowther, a 1999 graduate of Boston College, worked for an investment banking firm on the 104th floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center. After the plane hit, he ran back into the wreckage at least 3 times to rescue survivors from the upper floors of the tower and eventually lost his life saving others. His parents were able to connect their son with stories of his bravery from witness accounts because they all saw him shielding his nose and mouth with his trademark red bandanna, something his father had given him as a boy that he had carried with him his whole life.
To honor him at the upcoming UCF vs. BC football game, a movement has started to encourage attendees of the game to wear a red bandanna. The movement has gained popularity to the point where it has literally become front page news on the Orlando Sentinel. There is even a Facebook event page where in only a few days, over 5500 fans have pledged to participate. Tadd and I can’t wait to wear our bandannas to the game, along with our family and friends. Crowther’s story has moved me, and the chance to show our support for the cause is an honor. It may seem trite and of course, no amount of red-bandanna-wearing can bring back anyone who has been lost, but tributes like this give us all a chance to reflect, show support to friends and families of the victims, and join together to do something larger than life. There is something heartwarming about fans across rival teams joining forces for something like this.
To learn more about Welles’ story, please check out the incredibly moving video segment that ESPN put together; Man In The Red Bandanna.