The Freeport Flag Ladies stood next to Main Street one final time Wednesday morning, the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that inspired their weekly displays of patriotism.

Every Tuesday from 8 to 9 a.m. for the past 18 years, at least one of the three — JoAnn Miller, 83, Elaine Greene, 73, and Carmen Footer, 77 — has stood next to Main Street in Freeport, through storms and sickness. After waving the flag on their regular morning Tuesday, the women joined a crowd of fans and well-wishers for one last stand on Wednesday. Gov. Janet Mills was among those who stood with the women Wednesday.

They began the ritual to commemorate the horrific terrorist attacks and to show support for everyone called to protect American citizens, from firefighters and police officers to members of every military branch. They expanded their activities to include seeing Maine soldiers off to their deployments, welcoming them home, attending military funerals, sending care packages to troops, and visiting schools and veterans’ homes.

They also became local celebrities and were invited over the years to appear with politicians or at other public events. The trio’s flag-waving drew widespread admiration and waves and honks from passing vehicles. At times, the ritual also elicited scowls from those who saw the display as supporting the military conflicts that began after the attacks and continue, in some form, 18 years later.

 

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