The music of the bagpipes coming up Congress Street to the Eastern Promenade caught the attention of everyone standing at the broad intersection of the two streets on the Hill. Drummers followed them. Firefighters from all over walked solemnly next as a unit. And volunteers dressed uniformly in black and white – carrying the names of all 403 fire fighters who lost their lives in the tragedy at Ground Zero ten years ago – came together to unite the community in an inspiring tribute.
Portland’s Fire Chief Fred LaMontagne introduced the speakers at the gazebo at Ft. Allen Park on the Eastern Promenade. The laying of three wreaths followed at the 9/11 memorial – located near the Portland House on the Promenade.
“Each day we experience many moments, at times these moments seem incredibly large, but through the course of time, each memory finds its home in our lives and takes its appropriate place in our chain of experiences called life…our moments, change us, we may not realize it at that time, but they impact us as a person…It reminds us that defending our country is not the responsibility of any one group, but it is our responsibility, your responsibility and my responsibility.”
Mayor Nicholas Mavadones recalled that almost 3,000 people lost their lives that day. They included James Roux of Portland, Robert and Jacqueline Norton of Lubec, Cmdr. Robert Schlegal of Gray, Robert Jalbert of Lewiston and Stephen Ward of Gorham. “We found that those terrorists fell short of what they aimed to achieve because we are and will always be a country…that will not compromise our values and beliefs….And if you look just blocks away, you can see changes in our community as we build and expand to embrace our new neighbors. Portland is a welcoming and safe city and even though we have a unique tie to some of the attackers, we have remained true to who we are….remember, too, that the events of September 11th connected us, united us, and brought out the very best of who we are and strive to be — and never forget.”