By Jonathan P. LaBonte
Mayor of Auburn
This Sunday, September 11, marks the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States. Each year on this date, it has been commonplace for many of us to share our stories of where we were and what we felt and were thinking on that fateful day.
As we reflect back now 15 years later, we can ask ourselves what has changed since that day and did we keep the promise we made to never forget. One example I’m proud to offer for never forgetting 9/11 comes from the men and women of the Auburn Fire Department. Each year, a small ceremony is held in honor of those that lost their lives in those terrorist attacks. At the exact time the first World Trade Center tower was struck, they toll a bell.
The memorial in front of Auburn Central now includes pieces of mangled steel that were extracted from the wreckage of the World Trade Center that day. They serve as a reminder of the devastation felt by so many, from those working in the Towers or Pentagon that day to the first responders that risked their lives to save others.
In addition to being host to the annual remembrance ceremony, the Auburn Fire Department welcomes in the American Red Cross for a blood drive on 9/11 as well. For blood donors who are due for another donation, or those that haven’t given for a while and would consider it, please consider donating at Auburn Fire this Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The activities begin at 8:30 a.m. at Auburn Central, 550 Minot Avenue. For those wishing to donate blood, they do encourage you to call for appointments. You can call 207-333-6633 ext. 2
While post-9/11 brought a rush of patriotism and a push to strengthen our national resolve in the fight against terrorism, it also brought more people to charitable work and care for neighbor. At the end of the day, I remain of the belief that it takes movement on all three to keep our country strong.
This Sunday, the 9/11 events in our community coincide with the 5th Annual Lake Auburn Half Marathon. While the half marathon is not held annually on 9/11, event organizers tell me they will be adding memorial activities to the event. More importantly, this event is a great example of local residents and businesses giving back.
The proceeds from this race support Moving ME Forward, a new local non-profit that supports healthy and active living among our citizens, with a special focus on youth. Moving ME Forward has been a growing sponsor of the back pack program of Good Shepherd Food Bank and the gardening program of the St. Mary’s Nutrition Center.
Our young people and their success will be key to the success of the community as a whole, and giving back so those young people have mentors and the support they need to be healthy and physically active is a great example for Moving ME Forward and its volunteers to give.
And speaking of examples for our young people, I’ve been very proud that Principal Davis and his team at Walton Elementary School have been holding an annual flag ceremony on 9/11. This year, because 9/11 falls on a weekend, the students and staff will hold their ceremony Friday, September 9 at 8:45 a.m. at the flagpole in the front of the school at 92 Mary Carroll Street.
It’s hard to believe that none of the students in this K-6 school would have been born on 9/11/2001. In fact, you’d have to be into the high school to find students who had been born, but even they likely have no memory of it at just a couple years old.
After 15 years, a nation that never forgets doesn’t just mean remembering the lives of those lost on 9/11. It also means never forgetting our commitments we made that day to support our first responders and those on the front lines keeping us safe and to engage and give
back more in our communities.