GOV. PAUL LEPAGE

GOV. PAUL LEPAGE

BRUNSWICK

On the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Gov. Paul LePage marked the day with “prayers” that America would be able to avoid becoming embroiled in “a third war” in addition to Afghanistan and Iraq.

A gallery of about 100 people attended the noontime remembrance, organized by George T. Files American Legion Post 20 in Brunswick on The Mall in temperatures that hovered in the high 80s.

During the ceremony,

LePage lauded veterans’ sacrifices and service in past conflicts, and urged support for soldiers currently deployed overseas in the collective War on Terrorism.

FREEPORT MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS listen to the Star Spangled Banner at a ceremony Wednesday morning marking the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001 in Freeport. They're too young to remember the original event and some are currently studying it in school. STORY, A3.

FREEPORT MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS listen to the Star Spangled Banner at a ceremony Wednesday morning marking the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001 in Freeport. They’re too young to remember the original event and some are currently studying it in school. STORY, A3.

“Today is a special day, and frankly, I wish it wasn’t,” Le- Page said. “The devastating events that occurred on that day forever changed our nation.”

 

 

Backed by a 21st U. S. Marines Alpha Company color guard based in Brunswick, the governor recalled the images of the horrific attacks on New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.

In his 10-minute speech, LePage alluded several times to the potential for — and his opposition to — an American military response to Syria.

The governor also referred indirectly to a nationally televised address Sept. 10, during which President Barack Obama outlined his intent to employ military and diplomatic efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis.

TOP LEFT, First lady Ann LePage stands with Topsham’s Mary Bernier, who accepted a Blue Star banner on behalf of her son, Ryan Bernier, who served in the Air National Guard as Brunswick American Legion Post 20 Chaplain Read Rich, center, looks on. ABOVE, Gov. Paul LePage pins a Purple Heart on Douglas Wallace, a World War II combat veteran, of Waldoboro.

TOP LEFT, First lady Ann LePage stands with Topsham’s Mary Bernier, who accepted a Blue Star banner on behalf of her son, Ryan Bernier, who served in the Air National Guard as Brunswick American Legion Post 20 Chaplain Read Rich, center, looks on. ABOVE, Gov. Paul LePage pins a Purple Heart on Douglas Wallace, a World War II combat veteran, of Waldoboro.

“Not only do we commemmorate 9/ 11, but I worry about sending more soldiers to a third war, and I know it can be avoided,” LePage said.

Prior to the speech, both the governor and first lady Ann LePage awarded service certificates to current and former soldiers.

Among the citations was a Purple Heart earned by Douglas M. Wallace, a World War II veteran who was wounded but, until Wednesday, never recognized. Wallace was injured in 1944 in the Phillipine Islands when his ship was sunk by a Japanese air attack.

Other recipients included Jim and Maureen Porter of Brunswick, whose niece, Lt. Col. Kathleen J. Porter, serves in the U. S. Army Reserves; and Cynthia Anthony, whose nephew, Cpl. Christopher A. Meyer, serves in the U. S. Marine Corps.

Susan Briggs Peters, of Freeport, received a Blue Star Banner for her son, Pvt. Matthew Stasinowsky’s service in the U.S. Army.

Many of the honored had served in WWII, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf Wars. One recipient quipped to LePage he “didn’t mind having his picture taken, as long as (LePage) didn’t mind having his picture taken with a Democrat.”

On this day, at least, the conservative governor didn’t mind.

“I told him, before he’s a Democrat, he’s American, and before I’m a Republican, I’m American,” LePage said.

“We shouldn’t let anything divide us as a nation, not our values, not our jobs, not religions, not our politics … we are, first of all, Americans.”

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