Twenty years ago, Ronnie Rodriguez was the driver for Engine 27 for the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department in Virginia. And on Sept. 11, 2001, he was part of the teams that responded to the Pentagon after it was hit.

Now the Winslow fire chief, Rodriguez spoke briefly about his experience during a remembrance ceremony Saturday morning at the Waterville Elks Lodge.

“It’s amazing to me how almost every Sept. 11, the day is the same,” Rodriguez said. “The skies are crystal blue, with a crisp mist in the air.”

After responding to the attack, Rodriguez said he stayed at the Pentagon until 2 a.m. the next day. He went home, rested, and came back on Sept. 13. And while he remembers the day itself, he tries to focus on the unity that came after the attacks.

David Hammond presents the American flag adorned with the names of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center during a 9/11 remembrance ceremony Saturday at the Elks Lodge in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“When we look back and think of all the things that happened on that day, I think it’s good that we remember but I try and focus on Sept. 12,” Rodriguez said. “And how great this country is, and how it demonstrated its greatness on Sept. 12 when the resolve of the American people came together as one.”

Ahead of the ceremony, the road to the lodge was lined with American flags, and the Waterville and Winslow fire departments each extended the ladders of a truck outside the lodge to hang a large flag between them.

Felecia M. Gaulin, the lodge’s exalted ruler, led the ceremony, which included a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., the time when the first Twin Tower was hit in New York City.

Tower trucks from Waterville and Winslow fire departments hang an American flag over the parking lot Saturday during a 9/11 remembrance ceremony at the Elks Lodge in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

State Rep. Bruce White, who is also a member of the lodge, said that he, like so many others, still remembers exactly where he was 20 years ago when he first heard about the attacks. He was working in China Middle School, and recalled getting calls from his wife and children. He spent days after glued to the TV, and every story that came out of the attack.

“I listened and watched of the many stories of heroes that died on that day, the stories of the emergency personnel who ran into the buildings, while others were running out,” White said. “They saved countless men and women. To this day, I have a hard time watching and hearing the stories.”

The ceremony in Waterville was just one of many ways the central Maine community recognized the 20th anniversary of the attacks.

In Unity, organizers placed 2,977 flags in the field beside Mac’s Hardware.

Members of the Waterville police and fire departments recite the Pledge of Allegiance during a 9/11 remembrance ceremony Saturday at the Elks Lodge in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“Last year we did a flag line, and everyone loved it,” said Melanie Cole who headed the efforts from local businesses and citizens. “We knew we needed to do something bigger for the 20th anniversary.”

A short ceremony began at 9 a.m. with Emily Parker singing the national anthem. Cole then went over the timeline of events that took place 20 years ago, they rang bells, discussed flight numbers and had speakers. Unity Fire Chief Blaine Parsons and District 11 State Sen. Chip Curry each spoke.

“It’s important to me people remember, especially the younger generation who may not understand because they weren’t born,” said Cole.

Unity Fire Department, Waldo County Sheriff’s Department and Maine State Police were in attendance. Approximately 50 to 60 people attended the ceremony as it was livestreamed on The Market of Unity Facebook page.

“It was a somber event,” said Cole. “Everyone was very thankful we took the time to put it on.”

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.