FREEPORT – A member of the Freeport Flag Ladies, who underwent open-heart surgery earlier this month, has returned home from the hospital, but was unable to participate Tuesday in the three-person group’s weekly tradition of standing near the corner of School and Main streets in Freeport and waving American flags.

Carmen Footer, 72, who underwent surgery at Maine Medical Center on March 21, could not participate in the Flag Ladies’ weekly ritual Tuesday morning, according to a message posted on their Facebook page by her housemate and fellow Flag Lady, Elaine Greene. JoAnn Miller is the group’s third member.

The Flag Ladies have held flags in honor of U.S. troops every Tuesday morning since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the twin towers at New York City’s World Trade Center. The weekly ritual involves the Flag Ladies walking a short distance up a hill from their home on School Street to Main Street.

“We headed to the hill this morning to hold our flags in honor of our troops as we have every Tuesday morning since 9-11. Carmen was missing again this morning as she is recovering from open heart surgery.

“She is back home but still has a long road to recovery. Two of her sisters held her flag and again many people joined us on the hill in her honor in spite of the cold wind,” Greene wrote.

Last Tuesday was the first week in years that Footer, Greene and Miller had been unable to stand together.