LISBON FALLS — Motorcycles rumbled as they entered the Railroad Diner parking lot Saturday, kicking off a tribute to first responders lost on Sept. 11 and in the line of duty in Maine.

About 50 motorcyclists, including members of the Fire & Iron Motorcycle Club, a nationwide organization of firefighters who ride, kicked up dust in the back lot of the diner and were greeted by bagpipes blaring “You’re a Grand Old Flag” as the fourth Tribute to Our Fallen ceremony began.

“It was emotional last year, but it was much more emotional this year. Even if you haven’t lost anybody, you’re bound to know somebody that has worked in this field and has been injured or lost,” said Becky Huber, a member of the Stray Cats Motorcycle Club that has volunteered at the event in recent years.

Attendees gathered in the large tent next to the diner where, under a large American flag draped from the ceiling, Rick Beaulé and Deb Cook performed the national anthem and “Amazing Grace,” respectively. A slideshow included recordings of calls made from victims of the Sept. 11 attacks trapped in the World Trade Center in New York City as well as statistics about those who lost their lives during the attacks and afterward due to illness.

“It’s amazing to see — let’s be honest — rough, tough bikers that are here to support this cause for their fellow firefighters and first responders in law enforcement, here to support each other, raise funds, and help each other. It’s (about) keeping all of our first responders in the forefronts of our minds and the difficult job that they do every day to help protect us and respond to us in need. They’re the ones running toward whatever is happening while we’re running to protect ourselves, and they’re there to protect us,” said Kim Carson, board chair for the Maine chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, whose stand distributed flags, wrist bands and information on the foundation’s work within the first responder community.

The ride has grown since its inception four years ago by Cara Malone, secretary of Fire & Iron Chapter 707, based in Woolwich, and her husband, Dave, who is chapter president. The latter was overcome with emotion as he read off the names of six fallen first responders in Maine who died since the event began.


“(Our club) is made up of firefighters, EMS members, and a lot of them serve not just our community but our country,” said Malone. “We all ride bikes and we do events like this for different causes and we try to do our good in the community, and as a part of that it was a natural fit.”

A picture of the late Capt. Michael Bell of the Farmington Fire Department sits on a remembrance table Saturday in Lisbon Falls. The table was a tribute to Maine firefighters who have passed away. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

The camaraderie was palpable among those who gathered in the shade, cold beer in hand, and who rang bells placed on the table with pictures of fallen first responders. The bell hearkens to the call to action that firefighters hear, but now welcomes them to their final rest.

“I was really happy to provide folks with support that are doing such an honorable tribute here in Lisbon … and it’s great to have Lisbon be chosen as the spot for this,” said Ross Cunningham, economic and community director for the town, who helped coordinate the event with the Railroad Diner and Cara Malone.

“The public tends to forget or take for granted that what these people do, for a lot of them, is not their full time job. They volunteer or it’s their part-time job and they’re on call 24/7 and they leave their families to go help other families,” said Huber. “And people forget they do this because of something in their heart and it’s important to them. They just live it.”

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