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Motoryclists joining 9/11 ride rumble through Chambersburg

'This helps me heal, but it helps you to not forget that it happened'

August 18, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • An honor guard welcomes America's 9/11 riders as they rode through Memorial Square Thursday in downtown Chambersburg, Pa.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Alana Mowen was getting ready for work on Sept. 11, 2001, when the unthinkable flashed across her television screen.

"I just remember my heart sinking and all the people trying to come up with ideas of what was going on. I just remember thinking, 'Oh, God, this is the worst thing that I have ever seen in my lifetime,'" said Mowen, branch manager at Sovereign Bank in downtown Chambersburg.

For Mowen and three other bank employees, the memories flooded back and work came to a standstill Thursday as hundreds of motorcyclists participating in the 2011 America's 9/11 Ride rumbled through downtown Chambersburg to cheers and applause from onlookers.

Ten years after the terrorist attacks, Mowen is still trying to recover.

"I'm still angry. This helps me heal, but it helps you to not forget that it happened," she said. "I think that some people need to be reminded of all the people that lost their lives."

The motorcycle convoy left Gettysburg, Pa., at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, rolled down U.S. 30 through Chambersburg and was to end the day with a ceremony at 6 p.m. in Shanksville, Pa., where United Flight 93 crashed as its crew and passengers reportedly attempted to wrest control from hijackers.

During the attacks, hijacked airliners crashed into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., killing thousands.

The motorcycle group will travel to the Pentagon today and New York on Saturday. The event will close with a ceremony Sunday at Ground Zero at the site of the World Trade Center.

An honor guard welcomed the motorcycle contingency as they rode through Memorial Square in downtown Chambersburg.

Franklin Fire Co. and the Chambersburg Fire Department formed a ladder arch near the New Texas Lunch Restaurant in Chambersburg for the participants to ride through.

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Bill Schaeffer of New Franklin and his wife, Dar, came to cheer on friends Bob and Rita Byers, also of New Franklin, who were riding in the event.

"(9/11) is hard to talk about," said Dar Schaeffer, holding two American flags.

For the Schaeffers, remembering 9/11 is an important way of paying their respects to those who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks.

"I just think it's important to remember how valuable and how short our lives are, and just learning to appreciate the days we have with our family and friends," Bill Schaeffer said.

About four years ago, the Schaeffers visited Ground Zero n New York City.

"At that time there was a lot of excavation going on. It was just so impressive to see the enormity of the ground that was affected. There was a little church across the street from the Twin Towers and not even a piece of glass was broken in it," Bill Schaeffer said.

He said the pews in the church still bear the scars and scratches from rescue workers, still wearing their gear, who slept there.

"It was amazing that that little church was saved," Bill Schaeffer said.

"Even now it (remembering 9/11) just gives you goose bumps when you think about it," Dar Schaeffer said.

Barbara Dutton of Hagerstown and her husband, Bill, held American flags while they waited for the motorcycles to roar through town.

"We're supporting 9/11. This is our patriotic duty," Barbara Dutton said.

Ten years after the attacks, their emotions are still raw.

Bill said he worked at the State Department and saw the Pentagon firsthand the day after the attack.

"I lost a couple of friends. It's still sore. I'll never forget it — I'm still angry about it," Bill Dutton said.

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