WATERVILLE – Rose and Arley McAdams stood along Main Street on Saturday morning, wearing jackets emblazoned with firefighter pins and patches.

They wore identical black baseball caps, with the words etched on the back: “I survived 911.”

The McAdamses, who now live in Palermo, were New York City firefighters who responded to ground zero.

As the wail of sirens grew louder Saturday, the McAdamses watched reverently and snapped photos of passing fire engines, marchers and floats commemorating the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The parade passed under fire engine ladders hoisting a large American flag, which flapped in the cool breeze and bright morning sun.

“It’s very sad. I have mixed emotions,” said Rose McAdams, 55, “but I’m very proud and I’m really glad that they’re rebuilding (at ground zero) just to show: ‘Back off, we’re America, and we’re Americans and we’re proud. God bless us.’“

Arley McAdams, 48, said the anniversary stirs vivid memories of searching for survivors in the rubble of the World Trade Center. In particular, he was reminded of the look on peoples’ faces as they walked through a cloud of dust.

“They had a look of — they thought they were dead. They couldn’t believe they were alive. And I can remember every face I saw,” he said.

Saturday’s parade was among several public events during the 48th Maine State Federation of Firefighters Convention, held in Waterville this year. The convention was expanded to include events coinciding with the weekend remembrances of 9/11.

Saturday afternoon, hundreds of people gathered at Champions Fitness Center for a 9/11 memorial service. Bagpipers, a color guard and dignitaries marched to a stage, where five people stood in front of five wreaths memorializing five groups of people killed in the attacks: rescue workers, firefighters, police officers, Department of Defense workers and civilians.

Speakers included U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine; U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud, D-2nd District; Waterville-Winslow Fire Chief David LaFountain; and Eddie Buchanan, a motivational speaker and division chief of operations for the Hanover, Va., fire department and emergency medical services.

Buchanan said he lost several friends in the attacks, including a close friend. Buchanan noted that the phrase “never forget” has often been used in connection with 9/11, and he asked fellow first responders to think about what that meant.

One tangible sign of what “never forget” means is reverence for the American flag, he said, noting that he saw many cars sporting magnetic flags in the aftermath of 9/11.

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Scott Monroe can be contacted at 861-9239 or at:

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