FREEPORT, Maine — Carmen Footer, one of the "Freeport Flag Ladies" passed away Tuesday at the age of 81.
For 18 years, Mainers could count on seeing Footer, Elaine Greene, and Joann Miller at the corner of Maine and School Streets in Freeport.
The women stood on that corner every Tuesday, and on the 11th of every month, after 9/11, waving American flags. When the country went to war with Iraq, they stood there every single day until the war was declared over. The group put its tradition to rest in 2019.
Greene said Footer was surrounded by loved ones in the home that she, Greene, and Miller shared.
"She loved her country. She was a good patriot. She was a good mother. She was a good friend," Greene said. "We all need to live our lives to do the best we can."
That's something Footer, Greene, and Miller really tried to achieve. In a 2019 interview with NEWS CENTER Maine, Greene explained how they started their tradition of waving flags after President Bush asked people to step out of their homes one night and light candles following the deadly terrorist attack.
"It was a dead-end street at that time, so we decided to come up here [to the corner of Main and School Streets] with our candles. People...joined us, and I looked at [Footer and Miller], and I said, 'My prayer has been answered. I know what I can do to help my country.' I asked them to join me for a year," Greene said.
That year quickly turned into nearly two decades — years the women had described as the "most meaningful" of their lives.
"It takes you out of yourself and your self-interest, and it puts you in a world where you know what’s really important. It gets you to do something for somebody else," Greene explained in 2019.
Greene told NEWS CENTER Maine she, Footer, and Miller were "like three sisters." She said she'll remember Footer most fondly for her "dry sense of humor" and "typical Mainer" attitude.
There are no plans yet for a celebration of life or a funeral, but Greene said she knows what Footer would have wanted.
"She just wanted everybody to have a party. That's what she wanted. She didn't want people to mourn her," Greene said.