James Troutt, clutching an American flag with the name of his grandson written across it, recounted Friday how the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, had a profound effect on his family.

“Like a lot of young people, he went into the service on account of 9/11,” Troutt said of his grandson, Spc. Dustin Harris. Assigned to the 172nd Stryker Brigade and sent to Iraq, Harris died providing security for convoys.

“He was killed by an IED (improvised explosive device). He had just re-enlisted,” Troutt said.

He drove two and a half hours from his hometown of Sherman to Freeport, where more than 100 people gathered in the Public Safety Building to mark the anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Among them was Maine’s first lady, Ann LePage, the Freeport Flag Ladies and members of the Patriot Riders motorcycle group, who often serve as an honor guard for those who have died serving in the military.

Many of the 75 seventh-graders at the event held flags and red poppies representing the Maine service members who died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that followed the attacks.

Two large wreaths, in memory of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the attacks, were presented to the Freeport Flag Ladies during the ceremony, which was briefly disrupted by a protester who complained that the event emphasized the military instead of the victims. Jamie Roux of Freeport refused to leave and was arrested.

Twice during the remembrance, the crowd observed moments of silence marking when each of the World Trade Center towers fell in New York City.

Men and women wept as the Maine Public Safety Pipe & Drum Corps played “Amazing Grace.”

The flag ladies were dressed in the stars-and-stripes blouses they have worn every Tuesday morning for the past 14 years, when they wave American flags at the corner of Main and School streets. Two of them ended the ceremony by solemnly laying the wreaths at the town’s 9/11 memorial, constructed of steel recovered from the destroyed buildings.

Sept. 11 observances were held across the country, as the nation remembered the worst terrorist attack on American soil. A group of terrorists flew jetliners into the twin towers of the World Trade Center and into the Pentagon. Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari flew that morning from the Portland International Jetport into Boston, where they boarded a jet that Atta flew into the World Trade Center’s north tower.

A fourth hijacked jet crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers and crew members fought to retake control of it.

Five Mainers were among those killed that day.

The attacks triggered two of the nation’s longest conflicts, and Friday’s ceremony was largely about remembering the sacrifices made by members of the military who died or were injured in those wars.

Speakers at Friday’s event recalled the impact of watching on live television as the towers fell.

Pam Payeur remembered a beautiful sunny day, cleaning house after her children had gone off to school. Then she saw the second jet fly into the towers on live television and became very scared. She told her husband to retrieve the kids from school.

“If the world as we know it is going to end right now, I want my babies home with me,” she recalled thinking, adding that her children were in junior high and high school. “That’s what Sept. 11 was to me at that moment.”

The event did change her family’s life dramatically. Her son Michael enlisted in the Army and was injured in combat, grieved the deaths of many of his friends and has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder since.

Payeur started the Wounded Heroes Program of Maine to support injured veterans and their families, working to get them the services they need.

Payeur directed many of her comments to the children at the event, saying it is important for them to understand the significance of Sept. 11, even though they had not yet been born.

Gimbala Sankare, a Freeport resident who served in Afghanistan, was a schoolboy in New York City at the time of the attacks. He remembered hearing sirens on emergency vehicles rushing past his school and seeing his usually ebullient teacher become grimly serious. After graduating from the University of Maine, he enlisted. He said the majority of people in his unit said they had joined the military because of the Sept. 11 attacks.

He also spoke to the children, urging them to answer the call to service when it comes.

“Every single one of us has a place, has a role,” said Sankare, who is working to promote a program by Easter Seals Maine to provide services for veterans with physical and psychological injuries.

Marine Corps Maj. Adam Sacchetti was studying at Norwich University, preparing to be a commissioned officer in the Marines, when he learned of the attacks. He served multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, and recounted the story of brave friends who died fighting in those countries, and of his own injuries caused by an IED.

Sacchetti’s remarks were briefly interrupted by Roux, the protester.

“My father died on this day,” he yelled.

James Roux, a Portland lawyer, was a passenger on United Airlines Flight 175, which hit the south tower.

Jamie Roux, 29, had earlier posted on the Freeport Flag Ladies Facebook page, asking, “Why are you remembering soldiers on 9/11? Isn’t that a Memorial Day thing?” And in another post, as people were expressing enthusiasm for the upcoming event, he wrote, “Please stop. This is not your holiday.”

Freeport police wrestled Roux out of the building, put him on the ground in the parking lot and handcuffed him. He was later taken to the Cumberland County Jail in Portland on charges of disorderly conduct and failure to submit to arrest.

 

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.