President Obama today helped dedicate the National September 11 Memorial Museum, and his comments opened with the recollection of a man who "emerged from the smoke, and over his nose and his mouth, he wore a red handkerchief." It was Welles Crowther, a 24-year-old working on the South Tower's 104th floor who, as Obama explained, had carried a red handkerchief with him since he was a child. And on 9/11, the "man in the red bandana" was a hero:
- "He called for fire extinguishers to fight back the flames. He attended to the wounded. He led those survivors down the stairs to safety, and carried a woman on his shoulders down 17 flights. Then, he went back, back up all those flights, then back down again, bringing more wounded to safety, until that moment when the tower fell. ... And today, as we saw on our tour, one of his red handkerchiefs is on display in this museum. And from this day forward, all those who come here will have a chance to know the sacrifice of a young man who, like so many, gave his life so others might live."
In advance of his comments, Obama, the first lady, and former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg toured the museum, whose seven stories hold artifacts from the attack, including what CNN
calls the "ordinary": leather gloves (used during the recovery effort), a red wallet (owned by a Cantor Fitzgerald employee), a $2 bill (from the wallet of a victim who gave his wife one, too, as a reminder of their second chance at love). USA Today
reports that 9/11 survivors, the victims' families, and first responders can visit for free between now and when it opens to the public
) on Wednesday.