Students, firefighters participate in 9/11 Memorial Service
School students and teachers stood on the hillside, most of them holding small American flags — 343 to be exact, to match the number of firefighters killed during the Twin Tower attacks on 9/11/2001 — as a 9/11 memorial service was held on Sherman Field at Boothbay Region High School Friday morning, Sept. 8. The service was part of the Maine Federation of Firefighters annual convention scheduled for Sept. 8-10.
The service’s third presenter, Jefferson (Maine) Fire Chief Walter Morris gave a moving talk on “the man in the red bandana,” who was credited with saving at least a dozen people trying to escape the World Trade Center towers on 9/11. A recent documentary film has been made about the young savior, 24-year-old Welles Remy Crowther, who kept running in and out of one of the towers where he worked saving people.
“Witnesses didn’t know who he was, only that he wore a red bandana,” said Morris, who pulled one from his pocket during his talk. Crowther died in the tragedy when the towers collapsed.
Boothbay Fire Chief Dick Spofford, serving as master of ceremonies, opened the service by welcoming everyone – including Governor Paul LePage, the high school and elementary school students, firefighters in attendance and a few residents and visitors. He then introduced his daughter, Emily Spofford, who sang the national anthem.
The Reverend Peter Panagore gave a brief history about that fateful day, citing the number of people killed, and touting the heroism of emergency responders. “There is no greater love than giving your life to save others,” said Panagore.
Alternative Organizational Structure (AOS) 98 Superintendent of Schools Eileen King, who received a round of applause from the “schools on the hill” after her introduction, told the story of the three firefighters who raised the American flag at Ground Zero that was made famous through newspapers throughout the world.
“They didn’t do it for show or for the glory,” said King. “They said they did it to show America’s strength and resolve.”
Following Chief Morris’s presentation, Waterville firefighter Scott Holst read a list of names of Maine firefighters who died in the past year. After each name was read, Boothbay firefighter Joe Hall rang a bell.
After Spofford thanked everyone for attending, the governor and firefighters were surrounded by the students who came down the hill to talk and have photos taken.
A Maine Forest Service helicopter was supposed to arrive on the field after the service, but after everyone waited for 30 to 40 minutes, the helicopter never arrived and the students were sent back to class.