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The Remembrance Scholarships were established to honor those students and to keep alive the memory of their loss. Each year, 35 seniors are selected as Remembrance Scholars based on their academic excellence and their involvement in and service to the community.
This year's Remembrance Scholars were in seventh or eighth grade when Flight 103 went down. Many remember little, if anything, about it. Perhaps it's for that reason they are determined to do something positive to ensure current and future students know what happened to Flight 103 and recognize what an honor it is to be chosen a Remembrance Scholar.
"It's a tremendous honor, yet at the same time you also kind of wish that the scholarship didn't exist," says 1997 Remembrance Scholar Alison Weintraub, a magazine journalism and French major.
Patrick Sammon, a broadcast journalism and marketing major, agrees: "I know it's the top honor SU bestows on its students. But along with that honor comes the responsibility to educate people about what happened so that it's never forgotten."
"I was in eighth grade when it happened," says broadcast journalism major Jackie Rubin. "This year's freshmen were in fourth grade, and the freshman class coming in when will have been in first grade when 103 went down. It's important to start now to keep the issues and the memory alive."
Weintraub, Sammon, Rubin and about a dozen other 1997 Remembrance Scholars decided to do their part. During a September luncheon for Remembrance Scholars, a student asked about organizing a symposium. Dean David Rubin of the Newhouse School, who chairs the Remembrance Scholars Selection Committee, asked if others were interested in helping and several volunteered.
"We wanted something that would last longer and be more meaningful to everyone," says Weintraub. "One thing just led to another and before we knew it we had plans for the Week of Remembrance."
Sammon and Jackie Rubin produced a retrospective videotape from national and local newscasts on the crash. It's one way, they say, of giving back to the SU community for what they have received.
"Terrorism is something that the public often doesn't think about until it happens," says Jackie Rubin. "You think about it when 103 goes down. You think about it when Terry Anderson comes home. You think about it when you hear about TWA 800 going down and the possibility of it being caused by terrorists. You think about it when the Federal Building in Oklahoma City blows up. But during the in-between times, terrorism is not really in people's thoughts.
"Being a Remembrance Scholar gives me the opportunity to keep it in the public eye at a time when it's not in the forefront of the news or there isn't a national disaster that makes people think about it."
Rubin remembers the crash vividly. "As strange as it sounds, ever since I was little, I've had a fascination with air disasters and their ramifications, what they mean and how to prevent them," she says. "It's been very important to me to be involved with this whole thing.
"I'm lucky," she says. "I've never lost an immediate family member or very close friend. I can imagine what it was like, though, and feel fortunate that I can imagine it." She hopes the video will help others feel the loss. "A lot of it is difficult to watch," she explains, "but we want to make people cry. We want them to know what it was like. I want to touch people through those television pictures."
The video will be shown Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. in Hendricks Chapel. Also on the program will be a talk by Judy O'Rourke, a Remembrance Scholars Selection Committee member who was the primary contact between the University and victims' parents after the tragedy occurred. Georgia Nucci, mother of Pan Am 103 victim Christopher Nucci, will talk about personal lessons learned from the bombing, and Bob Hunt, father of victim Karen Hunt, will discuss some of the political lessons that came out of the tragedy. A question-and-answer session will follow.
Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. in the Kilian Room, Room 500, Hall of Languages, history professor David Bennett will lead a discussion on domestic and international terrorism.
Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m., a panel discussion on media coverage of airline disasters will be held in Studio B of Newhouse II. Discussants will include Joan Deppa, associate professor of newspaper and co-author of "The Media and Disasters: Pan Am 103" (New York University Press, 1993); WSTM-3 news anchor Jackie Robinson '78 and WTVH-5 reporter Sheryl Nathans, both of whom covered the Pan Am 103 explosion; and Tonya Twigg, a senior at Montoursville High School, who lost several classmates when TWA Flight 800 crashed off Long Island this summer.
Oct. 31 at 12:45 p.m., the Remembrance Scholars will gather at the Place of Remembrance to recite the names of the 35 deceased SU students as the Crouse College chimes toll in their honor. The Rev. James K. Taylor, SU Episcopal chaplain, will make brief remarks, and a poem by Pan Am 103 victim Karen Hunt will be read.
Nov. 1 at 4:30 p.m., the annual Remembrance Scholars convocation will be held in Hendricks Chapel. The event is open to the public. The Remembrance Scholars, their parents and parents of several of the victims will attend. A reception will follow in the lobby of Heroy Geology Laboratory.
The Week of Remembrance began on Sunday (Oct. 27), when the Remembrance Scholars placed blue and white ribbons around 35 trees on the Quad. Attached to each ribbon is a tag with the name of one of the 35 SU students who were killed.
To fine arts and magazine journalism major Ulka Patel, news of terrorism and airplane hijackings seemed common while she was growing up in Collegeville, Pa. "During my formative years," she says, "my impression was that those things were, not normal, but that they happened regularly. So the 103 bombing didn't stick in my mind. It just seemed like another one of those things.
"When I got to Syracuse University and started taking in all the information about Pan Am 103, I began to realize the importance and the impact of the tragedy-that it had an effect on people at a national level," she says.
Pan Am 103 directly affected Matt Marsh, an economics and policy studies major. He attended the same Adams, Mass., high school as SU victim Wendy Lincoln. "I know her family well," he says. "Wendy Lincoln was a prominent student at the high school. The town was really devastated. The schools were closed. It was like a natural disaster had hit."
Marsh was awarded the Wendy Lincoln Memorial Scholarship in his senior year of high school. "So when I came to Syracuse, I hoped to be named a Remembrance Scholar for the Lincolns. It's like someone from the town is carrying on the memory and keeping [Wendy's] name alive."
Marsh is working with other Scholars to redesign the Remembrance Scholarship application, presenting it in book form. "When I went through the process last year, I didn't write the traditional application because, to be quite frank, it didn't seem to me to reflect the importance of the award.
"[The new version] will look much nicer than what we have now, and the questions will be more appropriate," he says. It will be designed in such a fashion as to prompt thoughtful, well-researched responses from applicants, he says. The Scholars are also making over a portfolio that is sent to students studying at Division of International Programs Abroad (DIPA) centers overseas. Both projects are expected to be completed by the start of next semester.
"We don't plan to deactivate after the week is over," says Weintraub. "Several of us will definitely continue to work to create a greater awareness of the scholarships."
Twelve Scholars have been added to the 1997-98 Remembrance Scholars Selection Committee.
Each scholarship provides $5,000 for the recipient's senior year of study. Although they're appreciative of the financial support, the students say the importance of the scholarship has nothing to do with money.
"Most of us are pretty good students to begin with, so we could have gotten other scholarships," says Marsh. "This is a much deeper award than that.
Anybody I talked to who was applying because of the money, I told them not to. Sure, the money helps, but, to tell you the truth, it's not about that at all."
Weintraub echoes the sentiment. "I'm grateful for the scholarship, but knowing that the money going toward my tuition is because another person lost their life-that's really hard sometimes," she says. "I feel like we'd all give it back if we could just have those 35 students be alive again."