When Saturday dawned under a brilliant blue sky, the memories of nine years ago rushed back to Elaine Greene — not that Sept. 11, 2001, is ever far from her thoughts.

“The blue sky was just as blue as it was today,” Greene, one of Freeport’s “Flag Ladies,” said Saturday. “That blue sky on that day it was such a beautiful sky, yet such horrible things were taking place under that sky in our country.”

Greene and her fellow Flag Ladies marked the ninth anniversary of that day of “horrible things” with a solemn ceremony in Freeport. The trio, which includes Carmen Footer and JoAnn Miller, still turns out to wave flags every Tuesday on Main Street.

Saturday’s ceremony included the Freeport Fire Department blocking Main Street twice, at the same times that hijacked airliners hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, killing nearly 3,000 people.

About 200 people turned out for Saturday’s ceremony, Greene said, including people from out of state and a few relatives of those who died in the World Trade Center.

The Flag Ladies have tried to keep their weekly flag-waving non-political. They started it to honor those who died, those who tried to rescue victims, and to keep spirits up, Greene said.

At the time, people were afraid of more attacks coming, she said, and the flags were intended to inspire courage.

“If there is more, we will face it and we will survive it,” Greene said. “Our nation was bleeding and we were all bleeding with it and you just wanted to put a Band-Aid on it.”

And, of course, there has been more, although it wasn’t what people immediately feared. Greene noted the country’s two wars since then — the group gets together regularly to see off troops in Bangor — and a host of domestic troubles, from a hurricane in New Orleans to recession, unemployment and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

“Our country still needs it and we need it,” Greene said of the weekly displays of red, white and blue. “People need that encouragement and need to find ways to reconnect with each other in a way that’s non-political and learn to respect each other and their differences. People need to remember that we all love our country and we don’t need to be so worried about others’ opinions winning out.”

Other Mainers marked the anniversary of 9/11 differently.

Taking heed of President Obama’s call to make the anniversary a day of service and remembrance, about 30 people turned out for a cleanup at Deering Oaks in Portland.

“We’re doing this to reaffirm our lives to shared community,” said Orion Breen, who organized the event through the Hour Exchange of Portland, a service and volunteering barter organization.

Participants picked up trash, painted over graffiti and repainted garbage cans.

“We think it’s a beautiful place and we want to keep it that way,” Breen said.

The event attracted a handful of Delta Chi fraternity brothers from the nearby University of Southern Maine.

“We just thought we’d help out a little bit as a show of respect,” said Jimmy Burns of Bangor.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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