Richard Shoemaker rang the bell at Old Zionsville UCC at precisely 8:46 a.m. on Sept 11—the exact time that Flight # 11 hit the North Tower in New York City 10 years earlier.
It was a very patriotic morning at the church. Flags decorated the pews, bell tower and pulpit. Red, white and blue bows greeted parishioners as they entered the church.
9:02 a.m.—Shoemaker rang the bell a second time. This time, marking the moment when Flight # 175 hit the South Tower.
Sunday School students sang patriotic songs and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. They learned briefly what occurred—that the United States had been attacked Sept. 11, 2001. The students learned what the emergency responders did, and that some of them never made it out of the towers.
9:37 a.m.—the bell rang a third time. This time, representing Flight # 77 hitting the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
Fire trucks arrived at the church—one from , and the other from . Emergency personnel were honored at the church service.
10:03 a.m.—Shoemaker rang the bell for the fourth time. Flight # 93 crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pa, just after 10 o'clock in the morning 10 years ago.
Representatives of Upper Milford Township’s two fire companies stood before the congregation. Linda Bertie, president of the church’s consistory, presented each company with a certificate of appreciation from the church. All current and past emergency volunteers in the congregation were asked to stand and be recognized for their service to the community.
Members of the congregation were asked to share their memories from 10 years ago, if they wished.
One woman, a teacher, recalled she was teaching her third-graders math, when she received a written message about the attacks. “I was to remain calm and not tell the students anything at that point. The school was on lock-down and there would be no recess. It was such a beautiful day…what would I tell them?
“When I got home, all I did was clean…and clean…and clean. I had relatives in Shanksville and was worried about them and how they were doing.
“It was the worst day of my life.”
Another woman said she had just finished working the night shift as a nurse and thought on her way home, “The Lord made such a beautiful fall day.”
She turned on the television and went into a daze while watching the horror unfold, not even hearing the tea kettle whistle with boiling water.
“I had a son in the service at the time and was worried about him,” she said. “He finally called that night and said he was being shipped out, but didn’t know where he was going.”
Rev. Smith told the congregation the day should never be demeaned, and to always remember what happened. “We are Christians,” he said. “Someday we will forgive.”