One way to honor the memories of those who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks is to serve the communities in which we live.

That was the message delivered by Searsport Fire Chief Jim Dittmeier during a ceremony Sunday, Sept. 11 aimed at observing the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America.

During his brief address, Dittmeier told the group of local firefighters, veterans and residents gathered at the Dan Rich Public Safety Building to find ways to contribute to the community. Joining a local committee, serving on a school board or volunteering for the fire department, Dittmeier said, are all ways for people to remember the fallen while also lending a hand.

State Senator Michael Thibodeau also addressed the crowd, as did Pastor Norm Labonte from Safe Harbor Church in Searsport, who led the group in prayer.

Members of the Belfast-based Randall-Collins Veterans of Foreign War Post 3108 paid their respects to 9/11 victims with a color guard, and the Searsport Fire Department had several items on display at the memorial ceremony, including a banner listing all of the names of those who died in the attacks — the names formed the shape of an American flag.

Searsport Town Manager and House District 41 Representative James Gillway looked back on what was happening in his own life in September of 2001, and how his experiences at that time still serve as a reminder that not all Muslims wish to bring harm to Americans.

“I had just come back to work in Searsport that September,” recalled Gillway, who served as Searsport’s police chief at the time.

He had just returned from working in Kosovo as an international police advisor, where he said he routinely encountered people of the Muslim faith, many of whom tried to warn Gillway about situations in which he could be hurt.

“They would say, ‘Mr. James, don’t got to this part of town,’ or, ‘Mr. James, don’t eat at that restaurant,'” remembered Gillway. “They were very protective of me.”

Gillway said it was very difficult to return home and days later find that his country had been attacked by people who were of the Muslim faith, like the folks he lived amongst in Kosovo.

Prior to the tragedy of 9/11, Gillway said, his Muslim neighbors in Kosovo had warned him about another potential threat — a group known as al-Qaida. They told Gillway that while the members were Muslim, like them, they had “crazy eyes” and appeared to have the desire to hurt many people.

“They saw them as a different type of person,” said Gillway.