The fire departments of Lewiston and Auburn held 9/11 remembrance ceremonies Monday morning with flag-raisings, wreaths and recitations of the Firemen’s Prayer playing a central role in each event.
The annual ceremonies paid tribute to lives lost Sept. 11, 2001, in terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. All three attacks involved crashing hijacked commercial aircraft.
In remarks at Lewiston’s Central Fire Station, Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald said, “Sixteen years later, our resolve has not wavered.” He said we honor the courage of public safety personnel who died then, and he said he knows that the same courage and dedication is exemplified in service by firefighters and others at the local level. Macdonald is a former Lewiston Police Department patrol officer and detective.
Fire Chief Brian Stockdale said the virtues of public safety guardians that we recognize in the 9/11 ceremonies “exemplify humanity” and “we need it today more than ever.”
At Auburn’s Central Fire Station, Chief Geoffrey Low said the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 “galvanized national pride.” He emphasized that the United States “is not isolated as a nation and we must remain vigilant.”
Beginning with a moment of silence, a ceremonial ringing of a silver bell about 15 inches in height took place at both locations.
At the Lewiston ceremony, the bell sounded at 9:58 a.m., precisely the time of the collapse of the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City 16 years ago.
A fireman struck the bell in a sequence of three, four and three times, signifying the 343 firefighters whose lives were lost at the World Trade Center. As that bell rang, a bell in the nearby Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul tolled for the Twin Cities to hear.
Honor guards participated in both ceremonies in which flags at their respective fire stations were raised to the tops of flagpoles and then lowered to the half-staff position.
Representative of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin read letters from those office-holders.
Collins’ letter recognized several people with Maine connections who died in the attacks. She named Robert Schlegel, a native of Gray, who had recently been promoted to the rank of commander in the U.S. Navy. He was killed in the Pentagon attack.
Other Maine victims were retirees Jackie and Robert Norton of Lubec and Portland lawyer James Roux, who were on hijacked flights, along with Stephen Ward, a Gorham native in the north tower.
In Lewiston the Firemen’s Prayer was a recited by Chaplain John Robbins, and in Auburn, Deputy Chief Raymond Lussier delivered the prayer. At the corners of the central fire stations in both cities are large granite memorials on which the complete text of the prayer is engraved.
Numerous firetrucks and rescue vehicles were on display outside the central fire stations in both cities.
Public attendance was small at each event, but the downtown location of Lewiston’s fire station drew more than a dozen spectators to sidewalks near the station at the corner of Blake and Oak streets.