Review by: Lexi Schaar
University of Idaho College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences
The Red Bandana is a story about crucial moments. Tom Rinaldi masterfully depicts the life of Welles Crowther, a 24 year old hero from Nyack, NY who tragically perished in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Rinaldi relates the heroic efforts of Crowther during the event which rocked a nation. However, Crowther’s positive influence on others began long before that fateful day and his legacy will continue to affect many lives for years to come. This story of a truly inspirational life is an excellent reminder of the impact a single person can have on the lives of many others.
The book follows Crowther through his coming of age years to the beginning of his career in the finance industry. Crowther’s relentless pursuit of excellence lays the path before him to high achievement in every area of his life. Yet, even in the midst of the kind of success many only dream of, he acknowledges that there is incongruence between his daily life on Wall Street and his aspiration to serve as a firefighter. This particular aspect of his story is especially relevant for the advisor who focuses on major selection and career path. Crowther’s experience is a clear reminder that while being conscious of career trajectory certainly ought to be a priority, success in any given area may not necessarily translate to fulfilment. After reading Crowther’s story I wonder how many students I work with are pursuing others’ definition of success at the expense of allowing purpose to unfold from within themselves.
Crowther’s selfless and brave actions on September 11th saved the lives of many people. However, another interaction described in the book also leaves a lasting impression. During his senior year of high school Crowther stepped in to confront a friend about to make a poor decision. With a simple and caring approach Crowther convinced his friend to consider the long term consequences of this decision. Many years later that friend reflects on the importance of that interaction. The contrast of this encounter compared to the epic nature of his actions in the World Trade Center inspires me to consider the things I am able to do today to positively effect change in someone else’s life. Many of Crowther’s friends and family members recount not being surprised at all to hear about his heroic endeavors, as it was just a part of his nature. Not many can aspire to such meaningful sacrifice. However, the simple, caring, day-to-day actions are very meaningful as well.
I will admit, in many ways this was not an easy story to read. The description of the events of that September morning in New York City was very difficult to picture. Additionally, as unique and inspirational as Welles Crowther was, I found myself thinking throughout the whole story about the other lives lost that day, each with their own story and their own legacy. I believe this thought has helped me to appreciate what time I have been given and I hope it does that for others as well. Inspiration is such a vital component of the advisor role. I believe this story can help bring perspective to the advising task as well as a reminder and deep understanding of the vital impact we can have as advisors, colleagues and human beings.
BkRev#1734. The Red Bandana. (2016). Tom Rinaldi. New York: Penguin Press. Price $25. ISBN:978-1-59420-677-1, http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/318803/the-red-bandanna-by-tom-rinaldi/9781594206771/