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Remembering Welles Crowther And 9/11: The Red Bandana As An Enduring Symbol Of Boston College Athletics

In order to honor the 22 Boston College alumni that lost their lives on September 11, the Boston College Eagles should embrace a new tradition -- the red bandana.


[Ed. note - originally published on September 11, 2011]

Today we remember those that lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, a day that forever changed the country and our world. On the 10th anniversary of this tragedy, Boston College remembers the 22 members of our community that lost their lives on that day -- our friends, classmates and students.

One of those brave individuals was Welles Crowther (BC '99), a member of the Boston College lacrosse team, equities trader and volunteer firefighter who single-handedly saved the lives of more than a dozen people in the World Trade Center's South Tower before losing his own life.

A couple of UCF students -- Neal Surrena and Garrett Weiss -- were so inspired by Welles story that they took to Facebook and Twitter to persuade thousands of UCF fans to wear Welles' symbolic red bandana to Bright House Networks Stadium last night. This grassroots movement to honor the life of a student whom neither Neal and Garrett had ever heard of before was both touching and inspirational, and the outpouring of support last night was truly a sight to behold.

I received an email from a graduate of the Class of 2002 yesterday, urging Boston College to take this gesture and make it our own. Not just for this coming Saturday's football game against the Duke Blue Devils, but in perpetuity.

For most of us, we will never get the same opportunity to make the choice that Welles made on that September morning 10 years ago. And while we should all be thankful for this, our actions will always fall short of the sacrifice that Welles made for the dozens of lives he saved on that day. Even though we may never be asked to make this ultimate sacrifice, we can still strive in some small way to incorporate the memory of Welles in each of Boston College's 29 varsity sports programs. Not just last night, and not just this coming Saturday, but for many, many years to come.

As the email read, "Welles Crowther is for lack of a better term the ultimate Eagle, the ultimate man for others. Whenever the BC community gathers some reminder of this should be present. His memory should not be fleeting."

I, for one, could not agree more.

In order for all of us to remember Welles, Boston College should start selling red bandanas at all our sporting events. These bandanas should be sold at every varsity sporting event, from this year's Thursday night nationally televised football game between BC and Florida State, to a women's soccer match on Newton Campus. These bandanas should be sold at a reasonable price which covers the cost and makes a small profit, a profit which should go to a scholarship or memorial fund that the Crowther family and the school deem appropriate.

The '02 alum continues, "A sea of waving bandanas shall bond us, and always remind the BC family wherever they may be, in the stands, on the field, at home, or abroad, what our shared heritage through school means, what it is to be a man for others. Welles must be an ongoing purpose for our community, cause for our fans, and if that is seen as a rallying cry for our teams, a rallying cry to go beyond the playing field and touch the greater community, then it has to be done. With not a moment to waste."

The red bandana goes further than some Superfan t-shirt that you receive in your orientation packet as a freshman. The red bandana should become an enduring symbol of Boston College athletics; something that stays top of mind and one that permeates all of what it means to be a Boston College Eagle and a Superfan.

The school should sell red bandanas at all our sporting events. Imagine a rocking Conte Forum sea of red bandanas when the hoops team pulls out a last minute victory or the Eagles' hockey team turns away our Comm. Ave. rivals on the ice. Under Armour should even scrap the stained glass pattern on our football, basketball and hockey uniforms -- a pattern that is far too generic and could represent any number of Catholic and religiously affiliated schools across the country -- and replace this with the red bandana pattern. Finally, the football program should don red bandana patterned helmets for the home game closest to September 11 each season. I'm sure Under Armour can make this happen.

In 1997, two Boston College students -- Jeff Bridge and Chris Millette -- forever changed the culture of Boston College athletics by introducing the Superfan t-shirt. Last night, we were witness to an inspirational gesture from two of our opponents' students -- Neal Surrena and Garrett Weiss -- to honor the life of a person they never got the opportunity to meet.

Two simple ideas from a pair of students that have had, and can have, a lasting impact on the future of Boston College athletics.

Now is the time for the BC Interruption community and readership to create a new tradition, an enduring symbol to honor not only Welles, but also the 21 other Boston College alumni that lost their lives on September 11. Let's not let the school's and the Athletic Department's tribute of Welles' life be fleeting. Let's instead embrace the red bandana as the new symbol of Boston College athletics and the true meaning of what it means to be "men and women for others."

Ever to excel.