Church bells nationwide, including those in the Lowcountry, rang 26 times this morning in memory of the people killed when a gunman broke into a Connecticut elementary school and started shooting.

The tolls came around 9:30 a.m., exactly one week after the tragedy that included the deaths of 20 children at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary.

In some places, bells rang an extra time to mark the death of shooter Adam Lanza’s mother, who was slain in her home before Lanza went to the school.

At St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church on King Street in downtown Charleston, parish administrator Liane Ziel said the 26 rings were especially poignant for her because she has a 3-year-old daughter.

As Ziel spoke about how the tragedy affected her, a group of schoolchildren on a field trip from Ashley Hall walked by. They strolled to Marion Square, where they climbed onto a stage and started singing, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Ziel wept.

“I’m happy that we could remember them in this way,” she said of the Sandy Hook victims. “Those poor families, what they must be going through at Christmastime.”

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