- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 12, 2002

SHANKSVILLE, Pa. (AP) Hundreds of people crammed into a small church yesterday to honor victims of United Flight 93, the plane that crashed in rural Pennsylvania on September 11 after passengers apparently attempted to regain control of the hijacked aircraft.
A line of people stretched outside the Shanksville United Methodist Church, about two miles from the crash site, on a brilliant and cold morning six months after the community of fewer than 300 people became part of a national tragedy.
At 10:06 a.m., exactly six months after the crash, churches began sounding their bells, a toll for each of the 40 passengers and crew who died.
The hourlong ceremony, part of a national day of remembrance, attracted hundreds of people, including family members of the victims and representatives of several faiths.
The Rev. Ronald Emery, pastor of the Shanksville church, said the attacks have brought the nation and its people closer together.
"What started as a knot in our stomach as pain and hurt has become the thread that holds us together," Mr. Emery said. "Flight 93 is that scarlet thread."
Flight 93 crashed after four hijackers took over the aircraft bound from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco, turning the plane back as it approached Cleveland and taking a course toward Washington. Calls from people on the plane to loved ones suggested the passengers confronted the hijackers before the crash.
Everyone on board was killed. It was the only one of four hijacked planes on September 11 that did not cause any deaths on the ground.
After the service, about 300 people went to the site of the crash, where family members of the victims laid flowers next to a bronze monument put there in memory of the victims.
Some of the family members were overcome with emotion. Marcy Nackie, whose brother-in-law Louis Nackie was a passenger aboard the flight, said the spot should be a national memorial site.
"This is hallowed ground. This is where the first battle in the war on terrorism happened," she said. "It was the battle of Shanksville."
The memorial at the site reads: "This memorial is in memory of the brave men and women who gave their lives to save so many others. Their courage and love of our country will be a source of strength and comfort to our great nation."
U.S. Rep. John P. Murtha, a Democrat who represents the area, is asking Congress to designate a national memorial in the field.


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