American Legion Post 24’s Tricia Thurston, left, Americanism Officer for the state American Legion, talks about the coming of age of the 9/11 generation during a brief ceremony Saturday morning to honor the lives lost during the 9/11 attacks. Beside her is Post 24 Commander Ed Perry, holding a wreath of remembrance, which he later tossed off Memorial Bridge. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD — American Legion Post 24 held a brief ceremony Saturday morning at the Memorial Bridge in Rumford to honor all those lives lost during the 9/11 attacks.

Starting at the Legion post, members — led by three Rumford fire engines — walked the short distance to the bridge, where several bystanders gathered for the observance.

Post 24’s Tricia Thurston, Americanism Officer for the state American Legion, said, “A new generation has arrived. The infants, toddlers and young children of 9/11 are now adults. Some lost parents on that day. Others lost siblings and friends. Some have served in the military or became first responders as a tribute to those who were lost.”

She said that much like those who came of age as bombs were dropped at Pearl Harbor, the 9/11 generation did not seek to grow up during war. “Evil came to America and Americans responded.”

Thurston said, “Never again should Americans underestimate the depravity of militant terrorist organizations. Never again should we allow transportation and other infrastructures be so easily exploited by those who wish us harm. And never again should other nations question whether such an attack on this country would be met with an overwhelming response.”

As the song “Amazing Grace” was played, Post 24 Commander Ed Perry tossed a wreath of remembrance off Memorial Bridge into the low-lying Androscoggin River to honor the deaths and heroes of this day 20 years ago. The natural-flower wreath landed on the ledge just at the water’s edge, but the impact sent three roses into the river.

Perry suggested the three roses symbolized the three sites of 9/11: New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and the Pennsylvania field where one of the airplanes crashed.

Jack Blanchard, vice commander for Post 24, said, “What occurred on 9/11 was indeed tragic, but the legacy of those lost on that day need not be so. The nearly 3,000 men, women and children who died that day were targeted for being American.”

He said Richard Santos was the national commander of the American Legion on Sept. 11, 2001. Shortly after the attacks, he penned a message that still resonates two decades later.

“America continues to heal and it is our responsibility as veterans to tend to the wounds,” Santos wrote. “Some will panic about the future; we must reassure them. Some will weep over a lost family member or friend; we must hold their hands. Some will be angry; we must temper their rage.”

Blanchard said Santos’ vision is a legacy Americans can create for those lost on 9/11. “Healing, reassurance and comfort. These qualities run counter to the inhumanity exhibited by a small group of terrorists that day. Combine these traits with a steadfast commitment to prepare and prevent future attacks, and we will truly be honoring all who were lost.”

“We must never forget,” he said.

During a brief ceremony Saturday morning in Rumford, American Legion Post 24 Commander Ed Perry tosses a wreath of remembrance off Memorial Bridge to honor the deaths and heroes of the 9/11 attacks 20 years ago. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times


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