Maine's flag ladies still waving strong a decade later

(CBS News) FREEPORT, Maine - As America prepares to celebrate its 237th birthday on July 4th, we bring you a story of patriotism; rekindled during one of America's darkest hours.

If you drive down Main Street in Freeport, Maine, any Tuesday morning, you'll see Carmen Footer, Joanne Miller and Elaine Greene proudly waving the stars and stripes.

Elaine Greene explained why she does this.

"Our country came under attack on September 11, 2001, and like so many Americans that day I wanted to do something," said Greene.

On that tragic day, the three women walked up the street from where they lived and decided to hold up the American flag.

The response was so overwhelming; they pledged to do it for one year.

One year turned into two, which turned into three; 12 years later, the Freeport flag ladies have never missed one Tuesday since 9/11.

"They're happy to have that gentle reminder, this is their country. Freedom is not free. These ladies stand out there in all kinds of weather and they appreciate us and it makes them feel more connected to their country," said Greene.

The flag ladies also answer dozens of requests to go into schools, churches, and community events. CBS

The flag ladies don't just stand on Main Street, they answer dozens of requests to go into schools, churches, and community events.

They even travel five hours to greet flights leaving and returning from overseas.

Elaine will never forget one soldier who was heading to Iraq in 2004.

"His father called me about three to four months later to thank me. He said, 'My son was killed. When he left, he was in a very dark place but I got a call when he arrived in Iraq and he said, I met some ladies and dad, I'm going to be okay because I met people worth dying for, if it has to be.' His father was calling to thank us because we gave his son his dignity. He didn't die in a dark place. If I never did another thing in my life, if it's all I ever had done, it would have been enough," said Greene.

Until every soldier returns home, the flag ladies pledge to remind us of that price of freedom.

  • Michelle Miller

    Michelle Miller is the co-host of "CBS This Morning: Saturday." As an award-winning correspondent based in New York, she has reported for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms. She joined CBS News in 2004.