JoAnn Miller, Elaine Greene and Carmen Footer, the Freeport Flag Ladies, are ready to retire after 18 years of spending every Tuesday waving the flag on Main Street in Freeport. Credit: CBS 13

The Freeport Flag Ladies have stood on Main Street waving American flags every Tuesday for the last 18 years.

For nearly two decades, JoAnn Miller, Elaine Greene and Carmen Footer have stood proudly on Main Street in Freeport, every single Tuesday since Sept. 11, 2001.

Greene, 74, wanted to do something following the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

“When we saw that second plane hit [the World Trade Center] we knew we were under attack,” Greene said.

So she recruited her friends Miller, 83, and Footer, 77, to stand on Main Street for one hour every Tuesday morning for one year.

That year quickly multiplied to dozens more.

“We felt that these people who have laid their life, limbs and sanity down for us was payment enough,” Greene said.

They have stood through rain, snow, sleet and scorching heat.

“You know there’s nothing worse than being hit with a flag that’s frozen,” Greene said.

Greene even broke her shoulder once.

“One day in March was really, really windy, it was about quarter of nine and that wind just hit right and pulled back and ripped my shoulder out, and JoAnn said ‘You gotta go.’ and I said, ‘No way, I got 15 more minutes, I gotta hang in there,’” Greene said.

They sent care packages to soldiers at war, sent them off at the airport and welcomed them home over the years.

“These were our fellow Americans. So yes, we were very closely tied to them,” Greene said.

But this Sept. 11 will be their last.

“It’s going to be a very hard day for us,” Greene said.

“You know, when you’re young you chase time, then you get a little older and you walk with time and then you reach our age and time’s chasing us,” Greene said. “And that’s pretty much the reason, and we can’t walk that fast anymore.”

And even though Main Street will soon be a little emptier, their mission will live on.

“We’ll still work with other groups like Wreaths Across America, the Honor Flight, our veterans groups, our police groups, anything they need if they need to raise funds, or sometimes it’s just a family that needs us,” Greene said.

And they wouldn’t trade those 963 hours for anything.

“We made this our lives for 18 years and I have no regrets. I would do it again. If I was younger I’d keep doing it,” Greene said.

They’re hoping people will join them for one last time.

“We welcome anybody and everybody to stand with us,” Greene said.

The ladies will be out on the corner of Main and School Street 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11.