How to Become a ‘Man Alive’.

Rivers of Hope

NYC firefighters on Sept. 11, 2001
NYC firefighters on Sept. 11, 2001. (Peter Morgan/Reuters)

As stories began to emerge after the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, several survivors from the South Tower mentioned a courageous young man who mysteriously appeared from the smoke and led them to safety. They did not know who this man was who saved their lives, but this they remembered: Wrapped over his mouth and nose was a red bandanna.

For 56 minutes, the man in the red bandanna shouted orders and led people down a stairwell to safety. “I found the stairs. Follow me,” he would say. He carried one woman down 17 flights of stairs on his back. He set her down and urged others to help her and keep moving down. Then he headed back up.

A badly injured woman was sitting on a radiator, waiting for help, when the man with the red bandanna…

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