First responders in rural Maine recognize twenty years since 9/11

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Rangeley Fire officers stand in front of the apparatus at the overlook. (Annie Twitchell)

FRANKLIN COUNTY – First responders in Northern Franklin County held memorial services to recognize twenty years since the events of September 11, 2001. On September 11, 2001 at 8:46 a.m., the United States of America skidded to a halt when a hijacked plane struck the North Tower at the World Trade Center in New York City.

Another plane struck the South Tower at 9:03 a.m., a third struck the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m., and the final plane – Flight 93 – crashed in a field in Pennsylvania at 10:07 a.m..

This morning in Rangeley, members of the Rangeley Fire Department, U.S. Border Patrol, NorthStar Ambulance, Rangeley Police Department, and Franklin County Sheriff’s Office marched a little over one mile from the Lakeside Park to the Rangeley Overlook. Many of the first responders walking were in full duty gear: firefighters with full air packs, law enforcement officers in bullet-proof vests. Veterans and members of the community joined them on their walk, proceeding quietly through downtown Rangeley and up to the overlook near the Dallas Hill Road.

At the overlook, Rangeley Fire Chief Mike Bacon briefly addressed the gathering. He recognized the 343 firefighters, 72 law enforcement officers, 8 EMS personnel, 55 military personnel, and 2,507 civilians who lost their lives in the attacks twenty years ago.

The first responder community is close knit and the loss of a member echoes far beyond the departments they served directly.

Chief Bacon urged that the younger generation of first responders, many of whom were in the audience, needed to remember the events of that day and the men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

Following the address from the Chief, they held a moment of silence, and the ceremony ended with Don Underwood playing ‘Amazing Grace’ on the bagpipes.

Eustis Fire Department and NorthStar Ambulance personnel take a moment of silence to remember the first responders, service members, and civilians lost twenty years ago. (Annie Twitchell)

Twenty miles away, Eustis Fire Department began their tribute promptly at 8:46 a.m., with all the fire trucks pulled out on the apron in front of the station. They turned on emergency lights and sirens and sounded the sirens for a full minute; the lights remained on for the duration of the tribute. At 9:03, 9:37, and 9:59 a.m., firefighters sounded three sets of blasts from the air horns. At 10:03, when the hijacked flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania, they repeated the full minute of sirens. At 10:34, they sounded another round on the air horns, and at 11 a.m. the trucks were returned to their respective bays.

In Kingfield, American Legion Post 61 and the Kingfield Fire Department collaborated on a brief memorial service. Kingfield Fire placed a temporary memorial, consisting of turnout gear and two pieces of NYFD equipment that had been given to a group of Maine firefighters who responded to New York City to assist with the aftermath at Ground Zero.

Post 61 Commander Terry Wyman spoke briefly, recognizing that it had been twenty years since the 9/11 attacks, and at 9:03 they lowered the flag to half mast.

To recognize the thirteen American military personnel killed in a recent attack in Afghanistan as the American troops withdrew, thirteen American flags were placed at the memorial. Commander Wyman said that in a sense, the joint ceremony marked a beginning and an end.

Kingfield Fire Department 9/11 Firefighter Tribute. (Annie Twitchell)
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