By Tyler Barth
Welles Remy Crowther set an example in a national crisis 19 years ago that should inspire us to overcome America’s present tribulations.
“We have such opportunity here that should be available to everybody. Not everybody’s going to be a superstar. But respect should be” universal, Alison Crowther, mother of “The Man in the Red Bandanna,” told a socially distanced 9/11 ceremony in Morris Plains on Friday.
Her son, a 24-year-old equities trader and volunteer fireman, saved many lives before losing his own at the World Trade Center after terrorists flew a hijacked United Airlines jetliner into the South Tower on Sept. 11, 2001.
Survivors remembered Welles from his signature red bandanna.
With the help of a Michigan foundation, Alison Crowther founded the Red Bandanna Project, tasked with building leadership, initiative, and forgiveness.
A Welles Remy Crowther Charitable Trust further honors the Boston College graduate’s memory through scholarships and support of organizations that help young people pursue excellence.
Welles’ mom, from Upper Nyack, NY, spoke before a hunk of gnarled iron from the World Trade Center that is the centerpiece of a 9/11 memorial park in Morris Plains. Attendees observed pandemic distancing protocols, and the event was live-streamed on the borough website for people leery of risking exposure to the coronavirus.
Other speakers at the hour-long ceremony included Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-11th Dist.), who cited bi-partisan efforts by New Jersey and New York lawmakers to save the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, and Morris Plains Borough School Principal Andrew Kramar, who worked on the 17th floor of the North Tower in 2001.
Kramar found himself in the lobby during the evacuation. He made it to West 4th Street by train, then to Penn Station, where he departed for Hoboken.
“It would have been very easy to not commemorate this day and have it be just another day,” said Kramar, referring to many events cancelled by the pandemic. “The day we forget is the day it is bound to repeat itself.”
“We all remember Sept. 11, 2001, in vivid detail even after nearly two decades,” said Morris County Prosecutor Fredric Knapp.
Some 2,977 people–including 64 Morris County residents–were killed that day by terrorists in New York, Washington D.C., and Shanksville, PA.
Friday’s memorial also was attended by Morris County Sheriff James Gannon, members of the Morris Minute Men and Watnong VFW Post 3402, Morris Plains firefighters, police officers and EMTs, and Morris Plains school administrators and students.
The Rev. Herman Scott, chaplain of the Morris County Jail, and the Rev. Don Brown, pastor of the Morris Plains Presbyterian Church, delivered invocations.
Presenting Alison Crowther with a key to the borough, Morris Plains Mayor Jason Karr summed up the occasion in two words:
The Morris County Freeholders will honor victims of 9/11 terror attacks on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, at a 6 pm ceremony at the county 9/11 Memorial on West Hanover Avenue in Parsippany. The featured speaker will be Hanover Township native Greg Manning, a veteran of the New York City Fire Department and 9/11 responder. The public is asked to where masks and bring lawn chairs for social distancing. The event, which is rain or shine, also will be live-streamed.