FORT KENT, Maine — Anxious to showcase national pride and honor those who have given their lives for the U.S., a Fort Kent woman has purchased a wealth of flags to line Main Street in the community.
Greta Laferriere Martin, a Fort Kent native who now shares her time between the community and New Jersey, secured $5,000 in donations and used $15,000 of her own money to purchase 135 flags to display along the route. This is the first Memorial Day that they have been displayed.
“On 9/11, I was living in New Jersey,” she said earlier this week. “And I could see the fires from Ground Zero. The flags that people displayed on their homes and buildings and cars impressed me so much. Last year when I was in Fort Kent, I took a ride down Main Street on Memorial Day and there were hardly any flags out. I was really disappointed and wanted to do something.”
Martin partnered with Phil Soucy, another resident who wanted to help, and they set out to gather support.
“I would have paid the entire $20,000 out of my own pocket if I had to,” she said. “But we received $5,000 in donations. The town puts the flags up and takes them down and also stores them through the winter.”
They were first displayed at the end of summer last year.
“I could tell that people really enjoyed it,” she said. “You feel like you are in a parade. This year, the town put them up on May 1.”
Martin said that the flags have been especially uplifting in light of an early morning fire in March that destroyed three historic buildings on West Main Street. The fire claimed a historic Fort Kent building housing Nadeau’s House of Furniture and the neighboring structure housing Acadia Home Care.
The third building in between was vacant at the time of the fire.
“The flags have cheered up the place,” she said. “We need to respect and honor our country, and this is a great way to do it.”