SU recalls Pan Am Remembrance Scholars honored
and staff challenged this year's
Remembrance Scholars to
become activists for justice
and peace Friday afternoon in
Nearly 300 people
gathered to honor the SU
students who died on Pan Am
Flight 103 and this year's
Remembrance Scholars - 35
seniors who embody the
qualities lost when those
students died. The $5,000
scholarship, awarded to 35
seniors yearly since 1990, is
the university's highest honor,
Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw
Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed out of the sky over Lockerbie,
Scotland, on the night of Dec. 21, 1988. Among the dead were 259
passengers and 11 residents of Lockerbie representing 21 nations from
around the world. The men suspected of planting the bomb - two Libyan
intelligence agents - have not been tried.
David M. Rubin, dean of the S.I. Newhouse School for Public
Communications and chair of the Remembrance Scholar Selection
Committee, addressed the struggle to bring the two Libyan suspects to
trial and the status of several international conflicts.
While many hoped that the bombing of Pan Am 103 would in some
way mark a departure from the madness of the past, the current status of
peace throughout the world is discouraging, Rubin said. He called for the
1998 Remembrance Scholars to combat apathy and become citizen
The government will only be responsible to a responsible citizenry,
Music from the chapel's organ set the tone for the late-afternoon
gathering, as the scholars placed 35 candles across the lip of the stage.
The scholars wore orange ribbons and buttons with sketches depicting
the students they represented.
Kim Hamilton, a scholar and a senior television, radio and film major,
spent recent weeks sifting through family-donated personal items for a
memorial quilt. She said this task did not prepare her for Remembrance
Week's emotions as she thought it would.
Every event we've done so far just catches my feelings off guard,
Hamilton said on the way to the convocation.
Jane Davis, whose daughter Shannon died on Pan Am Flight 103,
joined several families of SU victims at Hendricks Chapel. She said it is
difficult not to cry at Remembrance Week activities, but finds some
solace in visiting SU.
The truth is, to know that young people are still being offered the
opportunities that Shannon had overrides my heartbreak, Davis said
before the convocation.
Having victim's family members at Remembrance Week events is
important, said Megan Carney, a junior broadcast journalism major who
attended the convocation.
They're finally getting closer to justice than they ever were before, she
said, referring to recent efforts to bring the Libyan suspects to trial. Every
time we have Remembrance Week, it makes me realize how lucky I am
to be alive and to have the opportunities to do things that (the victims) are
never going to get to do.
Education and justice
The meaning of remembering was the focus of an address by Judy
O'Rourke, a senior administrator who serves as a liason between victims'
families and the university. Being one of the first scholars meant knowing
victims personally, she said, but by 1996, Remembrance Scholars feared
the award would become obsolete. And while the scholarships were
created in 1990, the idea for Remembrance Week was born of those
fears in the fall of 1996, O'Rourke said.
Each of us needs to work toward education and justice, she said,
telling the scholars that their efforts can make a difference. Education is
our strongest point.
Sharon Hollenback, a television, radio and film professor and chair of
the communications department, joined O'Rourke in reciting the victims
names aloud. Audience members viewed sketches of the SU victims in
the remembrance booklet as the names were read.
The relationships built between Syracuse and Lockerbie, and the
generosity of donors who fund the annual scholarships are two ways
good came from tragedy, Shaw said. He highlighted questions that still
plague families and communities affected by tragedies including Why do
people do such evil things? and Can we prevent such unspeakable acts in
The only kind of tragedy is the kind from which nothing is learned,
according to Maia Maureen Rodriguez, a senior musical theater major
who spoke on behalf of the scholars. She highlighted the ways in which
becoming a Remembrance Scholar affected her, and how the scholars
will go out into the world in honor of the victims.
The person who you lost has changed my life, she told the victims
families in attendance. They will not be forgotten. Hendricks Chapel Dean
Richard L. Phillips agreed.
There's no way to get completely over the anguish felt when you lose
a child on the threshold of life, Phillips said.
Dealing with grief
The grief many victimsí parents deal with may be eased if a trial
can be set, victimsí family members said. The United States, Scotland and
Libya brokered a deal throughout the past year to try the suspects in a
Scottish court in the Netherlands - a neutral location. But the agreement
will only be secured when Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi turns the
suspects over for trial - a measure he has reniged on several times.
Bob Monetti, attending his first Remembrance Scholar convocation in
memory of his son Ricky, said it is not comforting to know that justice
may come only if Gaddafi turns over the suspects. Monetti, a former
Federal Aviation Administration enginneer, added that while the suspects
are easy targets of criticism, Pan Am was also to blame for not stopping
the bomb from being placed on the plane.
They were supposed to be protecting us against those animals, said
Monetti, who traveled from New Jersey with his wife Elaine for the event.
Boston-native Frank Brewster came to see his son Philip receive the
award. Brewster said when the jumbo jet was bombed in 1988, he never
imagined he would be so close to the incident. In addition to being proud
for his son's accomplishments, he said he recognizes the pain the victims
family members are still experiencing.
It's a very emotional feeling, Frank Brewster said. I hope they're never
By Noelle Barton