Workers on Cleaning Up the World Trade Center After 9/11, and Braving an Ice Storm — in Red Wing Boots

Red Wing Wall of Honor
Red Wing's Wall of Honor at its Red Wing, Minn., store.
Courtesy of brand

When it comes to today’s tradespeople, sturdy workboots are essential for both safety and comfort. So in a campaign launched earlier this year, Red Wing Shoe Co. began collecting the diverse stories behind customers’ boots. After a selection process, some stories will be featured online and on a physical Wall of Honor at the company’s flagship store in its hometown of Red Wing, Minn. The wall will also display the actual boots worn by these customers.

Here are some of the stories being considered:

Chris Csoka, New York

“Construction has been my trade and passion for over 20 years. But far and away, my greatest source of humility was serving our country and helping with the cleanup of the 9/11 World Trade Center tragedy. Emotionally, the project was draining. Physically, we had to overcome frightening environmental hazards. Toxic piles of metal, crushed rebar, fuel oil, glass and other awful things were tearing through my workboots every four days. I finally got a pair of Red Wing 2292s and they were lifesavers. Not only did they last two months — 15 times longer than any other boot— they protected me from electrocution during an accident. Since I wasn’t hurt, I was able to help another guy on the crew who was starting to [experience the effects of] smoke inhalation during that accident. I hope we never have to see days like that again. But we showed the world what we’re made of and I’m deeply honored to have done my part.”

Dana Pope, North Carolina

“Some say I’m an arborist. I just consider myself a tree man. I started cutting down trees 43 years ago and never stopped. Heck, I had one pair of Red Wing logging boots for 27 of those years. Along the way, I started my own business, then passed it on to my sons. Being a tree man is dangerous and demanding work, but I love it. By my best guess, I’ve saved thousands of houses from falling trees. One day, these boots and I will have climbed our last tree. Then we’ll look back and say, boy that went fast. So, whatever you are called in this life to do, give it your all, till the day that you’re through.”

 

Dana Pope Red Wing Dana Pope relies on his Red Wing boots when cutting down trees. Courtesy of Dana Pope

David Wilson, Massachusetts

“When I look at [my] boots every morning by the door, I see more than just beat-up workboots. I see the blood, the sweat and tears [I experienced] as a former merchant marine. They came as a gift from my grandmother a few years back. I can still hear her saying, “Make us proud.” I look at these boots and see the Statue of Liberty, the Hudson, New York skyline, U.S.S. Constitution, Chelsea Creek and the Boston skyline. I see Iceland, the North Sea, Germany, Italy, the Mediterranean Sea, the Azores, the Atlantic and Canada. I see the ship I called home for days on end, the tugboat, the ferry, the barges and the piers these boots have worked on. I see the men and women I called shipmates, the people who helped me when I needed it and the people I helped when they needed it. These boots tell a story that many don’t know and will never know. These boots need a resole badly, but I can’t do it. It takes away from their soul. They were the last gift I got from my grandmother, a reminder that I made her proud. I see the world when I look at these boots because they’ve seen the world.”

David Wilson Red Wing Shipman David Wilson has crossed the seas in his workboots. Courtesy of David Wilson

Kenneth Windell, Indiana

“In 1954  my father, Darrell Windell, started working for public service as a lineman. I was 2 years old at the time. But all my life I knew I’d follow in his footsteps. In 1970 I graduated from high school and started line work. My very first pair of lineman boots were Red Wings, the only brand I’ve purchased over the last 47 years. In 1998 my son, Josiah, joined me in line work. We both wear Red Wings every day. One of the toughest jobs my boots treaded through was the ice storm of 1976. We went to Michigan and worked hundred hours the first five days. The ice was so thick on the poles, we would have to chip it away with our hooks with each step. Throughout the years, and covering three generations of Windell linemen, Red Wing has lived up to its standards.”

Kenneth Windell Red Wing Red Wing boots have served three generations of Windell linemen. Courtesy of Kenneth Windell