A new, controversial Hollywood film can't touch the true stories of sacrifice and bravery on that tragic day.
Few people have seen the new R-rated drama 9/11 just yet. But no matter: Everyone already hates it.
You might blame . Those who saw it called it “beyond offensive” and “horrific.” “It’s awful and manipulative and makes me mad at everyone involved,” tweeted one user.
Or blame the decision to cast Charlie Sheen — a noted 9/11 truther — as the film’s star. A curious move, one might say.
Whatever the reason for the blowback, this intimate disaster drama — depicting the saga of five people trapped on a World Trade Center elevator during 9/11 — has already been scourged from one end of the internet to the other. Seems that our popular culture — at least the slice of it prone to internet rants — isn’t particularly interested in 9/11′s band of fictional heroes.
Which is just fine. After all, as terrible as the tragedy was, the real events of September 11, 2001 gave us plenty of real heroes to consider.
Tom Rinaldi chronicled one in his book The Red Bandanna: A Life, A Choice, A Legacy. It’s the story of Welles Crowther, and the book takes its name from the red bandanna Welles always carried with him — even as a buttoned-down equities trader working in the World Trade Center’s South Tower.
Welles saw his father wrap a comb in a bandanna before they went to church. When Welles was 6, his dad gave him his first red bandanna — explaining that a white handkerchief was “for show,” the red bandanna “for blow.” From then on, Welles carried a red bandanna everywhere, tying it around his head while playing lacrosse for Boston College.
And during 9/11, when most everyone in the South Tower was moving down the stairs, Welles was moving back up — a red bandanna covering his nose and mouth to stave off smoke as he searched for people who needed help.
Some say that Welles helped rescue as many as 18 people that morning, but the 24-year-old couldn’t save himself. His body was later found among those of several firefighters. You can watch ESPN’s moving documentary on Welles on YouTube.
But heroes were plentiful that day.
When the North Tower was hit, the Port Authority told folks in the South Tower to stay put. Rick Rescorla, who’d earned a Silver Star in Vietnam, was head of corporate security for Morgan Stanley in the South Tower: He decided to order an evacuation anyway, and his quick decision saved the lives of more than 2,700 people. During the evacuation, according to The Washington Post, Rescorla sang “God Bless America” and “Men of Harlech” over a bullhorn, encouraging evacuees to stay calm. He died that day looking for survivors. He was last seen on the tenth floor.