When a terrorist bomb exploded aboard Pan Am Flight 103 on December 21, 1988, it scattered wreckage and remains over the hillsides around and in the village of Lockerbie, Scotland. Two hundred seventy lives were lost, lives hailing from 21 different countries and including 11 citizens on the ground in Lockerbie. Since that time 10 years ago, the event widely known as the "Lockerbie Air Disaster" has literally had a life of its own. People have often asked us here at Syracuse University why Flight 103 does not fade away like so many other major disasters that occur on a far-too-regular basis around the world. Answers are not hard to come by. |
Filled as they are with intrigue and mystery, the events and motives inherent in the bombing, the international entanglements and personalities of those responsible, as well as the diplomatic implications, are still far from being resolved. On top of this, formal judicial procedures have yet to begin in the widespread attempts at a legal resolution. With such mystery and so much unfinished business, it is understandable that the Lockerbie Air Disaster has a life of its own and is still a regular news item.
As a result of this tragedy, many rewarding and beneficial things have become manifest. While no one would wish tragedy upon us for its so-called spin-off benefits, these benefits cannot and should not be ignored.
On January 18, 1989, between 13,000 and 14,000 people came to the Carrier Dome at Syracuse University for a memorial service. That somber event symbolized the mood and sensitivity of the University and Syracuse communities in a way that may never be duplicated. We were, as a campus, more keenly attuned to one another as human beings in the semesters following the loss of our 35 students; we were more aware of the depth and the sacredness of life; and we were more attuned to what it means to relate to one another in our studies and in our daily lives. Annually, 35 memorial scholarships are awarded in a convocation ceremony at Syracuse University. Competition for the Remembrance Scholarships brings students who were very young at the time of the tragedy to an awareness of its dimensions and a sensitivity to the losses we experienced. This, in turn, keenly reminds us of the lessons learned through our loss in 1988.
The deepening awareness of the value of life and such things as scholarships only begin to touch the surface of the positive spin-offs from the tragedy. Visiting Lockerbie and the surrounding area was a pilgrimage for many of us. The care, sensitivity, and beauty of the memorials are breathtaking. The relationships that developed among the educational system and the citizens of Lockerbie and those of us here at Syracuse University are productive and enjoyable. Each year, two students from Lockerbie attend Syracuse University, hundreds of visitors travel from Syracuse to Lockerbie, and dozens from Lockerbie visit Syracuse. All this has resulted in many lifelong friendships. While no one wants a Lockerbie Air Disaster to create friendships, there is no denying the beauty and value of these new ties.|
Many other communities besides Lockerbie and Syracuse are implicated in the events surrounding and stemming from the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. Each community and individual touched has a story of tragedy and a story of benefits derived from tragedy.
I was acquainted with several of the student victims, two of them particularly closely. I never walk by the Place of Remembrance (at the entrance to campus at the south end of University Avenue) without glancing at their names, remembering their vitality, and sensing the tragic loss we experienced on that December day. At the same time, I am much more sensitive to the beauty, depth, and magnificent potential of the next student I meet on the pathways of this campus.
Richard L. Phillips is dean
of Hendricks Chapel.
THOSE WE LOST|
Steven Russell Berrell
Kenneth J. Bissett
Stephen J. Boland
Nicole Elise Boulanger
Timothy M. Cardwell
Eric M. Coker