LEWISTON — No amount of planning could have prepared police and firefighters for the attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., nine years ago.
"It was an impossible day," said Chief Michael Bussiere of the Lewiston Police Department, speaking at a Twin Cities Sept. 11 Remembrance Ceremony on Saturday.
"It was a day that you could never have prepared for, with any disaster drill or emergency drill," Bussiere said. "And yet, they persevered."
Local officials, police and firefighters, veterans groups and motorcycle riders gathered in the L-A Harley-Davidson parking lot on Main Street in Lewiston to remember those killed in the terrorist attacks in 2001.
The ceremony was also dedicated to the rescuers, police officers, firefighters and other first responders who sorted through the rubble and rescued anyone they could.
"It reminds us that the same thing can happen in any community, at any time, maybe on a different scale," said Ed Barrett, Lewiston's city administrator. "But it also gives us cause to think about the fact that these uniformed men and women are there for us every day and will respond to our community and our needs when it's necessary."
The attacks changed the face and tone of national politics and the way we look at the world, Auburn Mayor Dick Gleason said.
"Some of us have become more cautious, others more vigilant and some, more suspicious," he said. He urged people to make positive changes.
"Let it be a wake-up call to spend more time with your family, to do more for your community, do more for your health and spend more time with God," he said.
Lewiston and Auburn police and fire color guards stood alongside veterans from the American Legion post in New Auburn as they posted a special flag that had flown over American stations in Iraq.
The Rev. Bob Vaillancourt of the Maine Catholic diocese, who led the ceremony in prayer and gave the invocation, said the attacks left many wounds on the nation.
"People lost their loved ones and sense of security in the horror of a bombing on American soil," Vaillancourt said. "And so we begin by asking God to heal those various wounds of Sept. 11 and bless all who honor this day."
The event drew hundreds of local veterans and motorcycle riders. The American Legion Riders, Fire and Iron and the Patriot Guard biker groups hosted a pancake breakfast in the L-A Harley parking lot immediately after the ceremony.
They continued the day with a motorcycle poker run, with proceeds benefiting central Maine homeless shelters.