|Speakers recall Pan Am 103
The Daily Orange, Syracuse University newspaper 26/10/1998
|Syracuse U. holds memorial for 35 students killed in '88 Pan Am
The Daily Orange, Syracuse University newspaper 23/10/1998
Friday October 23 1998
(U-WIRE) SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The 35 chimes ringing from Crouse College on Wednesday afternoon signified the loss Syracuse University suffered 10 years ago.
The chimes were part of the memorial service and moment of silence for the 35 SU students killed in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. Holding roses and wearing pins with blue ribbons and sketches of each victim, 27 of this year's 35 Remembrance Scholars marched to the service at the Place of Remembrance monument in front of the Hall of Languages. The scholars were led in the procession by four members of the SU Reserve Officers' Training Corps Honor Guard at noon.
Under a gray sky and light drizzle, each Remembrance Scholar stepped
forward to recite a name of one of the victims and place a rose on top
of the monument. At the conclusion of the name reading, there was a brief
moment of silence. Arto Asadoorian, a senior music education major and
Remembrance Scholar, said she had mixed feelings about the service.
"It's one of those things that it's an honor to be a part of, but you wish you didn't have to be here," he said.
Asadoorian compared the victims, who were returning from studying abroad, to present-day SU students.
"Everyone knows people studying abroad now," he said. "It's a sobering thought to think that the same thing could happen to us. All these people had their lives ahead of them."
The scholars were visibly moved as they marched down the steps in front of the monument after the service. They all looked at the ground, some with tears in their eyes.
Nonetheless, Catherine Cwiakala, a senior inclusive elementary and special
education and sociology major, and a Remembrance Scholar, said she was
glad to take part in Wednesday's service.
"It was a really moving experience to be able to remember the 35 students and keep their memory alive," she said. "All I keep thinking is that these 35 people had the same hopes and dreams that we do, and they never got to fulfill them."
Mikio Fujitsuka, a senior public relations major and Remembrance Scholar, was in charge of the public relations for Remembrance Week. He said many of the students he talked to about this week's events did not know what happened 10 years ago.
"Back then everybody knew what happened and at least one person who
died," he said. "What I found out from handing out brochures is that about
half of the students don't know what happened.
"It's very important that they know."
'A huge loss'
This year's Remembrance Scholars organized more events then last year's
scholars, but it was still not enough, Fujitsuka said.
"I hope next year's scholars do a lot more than we did," he said. Esther Gray, 52, a part-time anthropology student and administrative secretary in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, was named a Remembrance Scholar after the award was recently opened to part-time students. She was in charge of organizing the memorial service and moment of silence. "The miracle here is that I'm not standing here crying," she said. "This service is in memory of the parents and kids who never got to say good-bye. "There was no closure."
Judy O'Rourke, an administrative assistant in the Office of Undergraduate Studies, became the liaison between SU and the victims' families 10 years ago. She is also the liaison between Syracuse and Lockerbie, which sends two students to study at SU each year.
"Most of the families are extremely grateful that the university has remembered their children," she said. "Our mission is to educate and teach, and we must teach that murder is not the answer. This week was about helping people think about what they can do."
Fiona Drysdale is one of the two Lockerbie Scholars sent to SU this
year. She said she was as moved by the ceremony as SU students were. "It
was really emotional and drove it home," she said. "It was a huge loss."
Drysdale was 8 years old when she witnessed the bombing, adding that she
still remembers the flames and noise.
Christine Dignan, head of secondary and adult education in Dumfries and Galloway, and Graham Herbert, head teacher at Lockerbie Academy, were the two Scotland representatives present at the ceremony.
Herbert said after the bombing, the people of Lockerbie raised enough money to send two of its students to SU.
"It's something positive that came out of the tragedy," he said. Both Dignan and Herbert said they were touched by the service. "It was a simple, but moving tribute," said Dignan.
Gray said she knew one of the students who died in the bombing. "You
know their face, and all of a sudden they're not there anymore," she said.
"It just hits home. "These were our people."
© 1998 Daily Orange via U-WIRE
The Daily Orange, Syracuse University newspaper 26/10/1998
Some tried to hold back their tears.
Others let them stream freely down their faces, their voices choking as they remembered the victims of the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland 10 years ago, in which 35 Syracuse University students died. The speakers at the "Remembrance in Peace" rally in the Schine Student Center on Tuesday recounted to a small audience of mostly students the moments when they first heard of the terrorist bombing, detailing their struggle to understand it afterwards.
"I was eight years old at the time, but I vividly remember what was witnessed that night," said Fiona Drysdale, a student from Lockerbie, where the 747 jumbo jet crashed, killing every passenger, as well as 11 people on the ground.
"There was an incredible noise almost like thunder, and the sky was lit up for miles around," Drysdale said. "Everybody was terrified, unsure of what had just taken place."
She said she understood the meaning of terrorism that night - Dec. 21, 1988 - and how it affected the people around her. "Not one single resident of Lockerbie or the surrounding area was immune to the anguish and heartbreak that was felt over the losses of such innocent lives," she said.
Drysdale and another student, Alison Younger, were chosen to study at Syracuse University for a year as part of the Lockerbie Scholarship awarded by SU, now in its ninth year.
Joan Deppa, a professor at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, described the moment she heard of the death of the 35 SU students as "flash-bolt." "It's a moment where you can remember what everything looked like or smelled like, and you can go back and remember it," Deppa said, trying to hold back tears. "It was unprecedented. "It was so hard to get our minds around it."
Cory Loudenslager, a law student whose sister died in the TWA 800 crash two and a half years ago, said she came to share memories of her sister and other crash victims.
"My goal now is to not have let them die in vain," she said, choking on her words. "The greatest way to remember them is to let them touch your lives as they may have, had they survived."
George Williams, who lost his only son in the crash, said he is still searching for justice
"They took away the most important person in my life," Williams said of his son Geordie, who died at age 24.
Williams serves as president of the support group Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, the largest of four groups to emerge from the Pan Am bombing. "I will not let them get away with it," Williams said of Abdelbasset Megrahi and Lameen Fhima, the two Libyan suspects wanted for the bombing. Megrahi and Fhima are currently being held under house arrest in Libya. Earlier this week, Libya leader Muammar Gaddafi renewed his offer to hand over the two suspects for trial in The Hague, according to the British Sunday Telegraph.
The Telegraph reported that Gaddafi, who had previously expressed resistence to the British-American proposal to have the suspects tried in Holland, is now anxious to give up his confrontational stance. Meanwhile, Williams is still hopeful that the trial will be swift and soon. He said he always gives the same answer when asked how he will find closure for his son's death: "When they close the lid on my coffin."
By Vita Bekker