The Red Bandana Man

Written By: Dr. Steve Whitaker

Thirteen years ago today we watched in horror as a national tragedy unfolded in New York City. In the midst of the death, destruction, and devastation, there were countless heroes who practiced “Service before Self” during the events of September 11. During a recent visit to the 9/11 Memorial, I was drawn to the story of “the red bandana man.”

Paying tribute to this hero, the President of the United States said, “In those awful moments after the South Tower was hit, some of the injured huddled in the wreckage of the 78th floor. The fires were spreading; the air was filled with smoke. It was dark, and they could barely see. It seemed as if there was no way out. And then, there came a voice: clear, calm, saying he had found the stairs. A young man, in his 20s, strong, emerged from the smoke and, over his nose and his mouth, he wore a red handkerchief. He led those survivors down the stairs to safety and carried a woman on his shoulders down 17 flights. And then he went back.” His name was Welles Crowther and on that day, he would make the ultimate sacrifice.

John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” The Red Bandana Man was willing to lay down his life so others could freely live. We are indebted to the first responders and courageous volunteers who risked their lives so that others might live.

At the heart of the Gospel message is another story of sacrifice. An innocent man gave his life for you and for me so that we wouldn’t have to pay the penalty of our sin. As we pay tribute to the heroes of 9/11, it’s also a perfect time to remember the One who paid the ultimate sacrifice for your salvation and mine.

Steve Whitaker