Reflections:A D E C A D E L AT E R
THE PAN AM 103 BOMBING FOREVER CHANGED US.
TODAY, THE EXPERIENCE OF THAT TRAGIC LOSS
REMINDS US OF THE SACREDNESS OF LIFE AND BRINGS US
matt turner / dave revette photography
TOGETHER AS A COMMUNITY TO REMEMBER THE VICTIMS
AND CARRY ON THEIR IDEALS.
T H O S E W E L O S T. . .
THE PAT H WAY
By Richard L. Phillips
W hen 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 seven-
ty lives were lost, lives hailing from 21
different countries and including 11 citi-
zens on the ground in Lockerbie. Since
Syracuse University. Competition for the
Remembrance Scholarships brings stu-
dents who were very young at the time
of the tragedy to an awareness of its
dimensions and a sensitivity to the loss-
es we experienced. This, in turn, keenly
reminds us of the lessons learned
through our loss in 1988.
Steven Russell Berrell
that time 10 years ago, the event widely The deepening awareness of the value
known as the “Lockerbie Air Disaster” of life and such things as scholarships
Kenneth J. Bissett
has literally had a life of its own. People only begin to touch the surface of the
have often asked us here at Syracuse positive spin-offs from the tragedy.
University why Flight 103 does not fade Visiting Lockerbie and the surrounding
away like so many other major disasters area was a pilgrimage for many of us.
that occur on a far-too-regular basis The care, sensitivity, and beauty of the
around the world. Answers are not hard memorials are breathtaking. The rela-
to come by. tionships that developed among the
Filled as they are with intrigue and educational system and the citizens of
mystery, the events and motives inher- Lockerbie and those of us here at
Stephen J. Boland
ent in the bombing, the international Syracuse University are productive and
entanglements and personalities of enjoyable. Each year, two students from
those responsible, as well as the diplo- Lockerbie attend Syracuse University,
matic implications, are still far from hundreds of visitors travel from Syracuse
being resolved. On top of this, formal to Lockerbie, and dozens from Lockerbie
judicial procedures have yet to begin in visit Syracuse. All this has resulted in
the widespread attempts at a legal reso- many lifelong friendships. While no one
lution. With such mystery and so much wants a Lockerbie Air Disaster to create
unfinished business, it is understandable friendships, there is no denying the Nicole Elise Boulanger
that the Lockerbie Air Disaster has a life beauty and value of these new ties.
of its own and is still a regular news item. Many other communities besides
As a result of this tragedy, many Lockerbie and Syracuse are implicated
rewarding and beneficial things have in the events surrounding and stem-
become manifest. While no one would ming from the terrorist bombing of Pan
wish tragedy upon us for its so-called Am Flight 103. Each community and
spin-off benefits, these benefits cannot individual touched has a story of
and should not be ignored. tragedy and a story of benefits derived
On January 18, 1989, between 13,000 from tragedy. Timothy M. Cardwell
and 14,000 people came to the Carrier I was acquainted with several of the
Dome at Syracuse University for a student victims, two of them particular-
memorial service. That somber event ly closely. I never walk by the Place of
symbolized the mood and sensitivity of Remembrance (at the entrance to cam-
the University and Syracuse communi- pus at the south end of University
ties in a way that may never be dupli- Avenue) without glancing at their
cated. We were, as a campus, more keen- names, remembering their vitality, and
ly attuned to one another as human sensing the tragic loss we experienced
beings in the semesters following the on that December day. At the same time, Theodora Cohen
matt turner / dave revette photography
loss of our 35 students; we were more I am much more sensitive to the beauty,
aware of the depth and the sacredness depth, and magnificent potential of the
of life; and we were more attuned to next student I meet on the pathways of
what it means to relate to one another this campus.
in our studies and in our daily lives.
Annually, 35 memorial scholarships are Richard L. Phillips is dean
awarded in a convocation ceremony at of Hendricks Chapel.
Eric M. Coker
W I N T E R 1 9 9 8 / 9 9
A decade after the bombing, families persevere
in their efforts to improve air safety, bring
the terrorists to justice, and ensure the memory
of their lost loved ones
By Joan L. Dater
t was April 1989 and I waited anxiously, I named the piece “Unfinished Business,”
wondering if any of our daughter’s artwork since Gretchen had completed the design
could be salvaged from the Pan Am 103 and filled in some color, but left the sky and
wreckage in Lockerbie. Gretchen, a fine arts a few other details unfinished—a symbol
major who was spending the fall semester and, at the same time, a manifestation of a
of her junior year abroad, had called home young talent’s life cut short.
when she secured a ride to Heathrow It is the 10th anniversary of the heinous,
Airport on December 18, 1988. She was cowardly act that took the lives of 35
excited at the prospect of coming home Syracuse students. The terrorist bombing
after an eventful semester in London sent repercussions throughout the SU cam-
offered by Syracuse University’s Division of pus, the nation, and the world. Shocked and
International Programs Abroad. bereft, but determined to learn what had
“I’ll bring all of my artwork home with happened, many family members of the vic- “Unfinished Business” by Gretchen Dater
me,” she said. One of her pieces was selected tims traveled to the Carrier Dome for a
to be hung in a students’ art exhibit at the January 1989 memorial service. There we • Bringing pressure to bear on the United
London School of Art. “I’ll tell you all about it sought each other out, hoping to find under- States government to enact stronger
when I see you.” Sadly, her wish never mate- standing and comfort. We also embarked counter-terrorism measures.
rialized, for she died along with 269 others upon an effort to organize and become an How have we victim families survived
in the mid-air terrorist bombing over advocacy group for political change. this ordeal? I often ask myself that very
Lockerbie on December 21, 1988. Terrorist acts of isolated but scattered question. Certainly such unresolved issues
In our hometown of Ramsey, New Jersey, groups, regardless of whether these groups as legal justice for the Libyan suspects,
her father, Tom, and I were preparing for a receive protection and financing from states tighter security measures, and the desire
spring 1989 opening and display of her that sponsor terrorism, are criminal acts and for a safer, secure world underscore our chil-
works in mixed media at the local library. must be dealt with under international law. It dren’s sense of idealism. We successfully
We had about 32 pieces from 2 1/2 years of was not until June 1991 that the Department sued Pan American World Airways for lax
study at the Maryland Institute, College of of Justice, under the Bush administration, security and for “willful misconduct” in
Art in Baltimore. Hanging them for display indicted two Libyan intelligence officers— allowing the mid-air explosion to happen.
was a painful process. Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen This one event—the bombing—has direct-
And then came the call from the Khalifa Fhimah—suspected of placing an ed me personally to reprioritize my energies
American consulate in Edinborough—an explosive device in a Samsonite bag aboard for the remainder of my life. In spirit, I join
acrylic painting of a London rooftop scene the feeder flight in Malta. The flight was des- hands with Gretchen in working to make
was discovered among the wreckage. tined for Frankfurt and then London. We the world a safer place. Yet, in the midst of
Located on the ground, it was in poor shape. must keep in mind that there are others such lofty goals, there is a deep, ever-pre-
Lockerbie constabulary identified it by unnamed in the indictment, and, most likely, sent pain in suffering the loss of a child.
Gretchen’s signature on the back. such an act of mass murder would not have
The painting arrived within 10 days. It been executed without the approval of IMPROVING SECURITY,
was quarter-folded and smeared with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. SEEKING JUSTICE
diesel fuel and mud. Her signature was
Luckily, the library exhibit was extended
Since organizing, the families of the 35 SU
students killed in the bombing have lent
emotional support to one another and suc-
W ith the 10th anniversary, it is time to
pause and take stock of develop-
ments. They have occurred in two signifi-
for four months and we were able to display ceeded in advocating for improvements in cant areas: airline and airport security, and
it along with the rest of her work. An art these areas: movement toward a criminal trial.
restorer and SU parent in nearby Franklin • Tighter security measures for airlines and “Pam Am 103 was the galvanizing event
Lakes, New Jersey, was kind enough to airports. for the United States’ approach to civil avia-
restore it for us. The event made the front • The pursuit of legal means to bring jus- tion security,” says Cathal Flynn, associate
page of our local newspaper. tice to those responsible. administrator for Civil Aviation Security of
S Y R A C U S E U N I V E R S I T Y M A G A Z I N E
the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). ments shifted their positions and agreed to
“Since that tragic day, we’ve been working put the Libyan suspects on trial in the
steadily with industry to improve all Netherlands before a panel of Scottish
aspects of security, and have dramatically judges. At press time, plans were still
increased our ability to protect the flying unfolding.
public. As a result, all of the FAA’s mandates Prior to that, on July 21, Secretary of State
Jason M. Coker
from the Aviation Security Improvement Madeleine Albright had a telephone confer-
Act of 1990 have been addressed.” ence with board members of the advocacy
Initiatives in three areas—personnel, pro- group Victims of Pan American Flight 103.
cedures, and research and development— Nine of our 15 board members participated.
have led to a security regime that reduces All nine voted to formally support our gov-
vulnerabilities and meets today’s evolving ernment in its efforts to bring the two sus-
threat, Flynn says. Among the improve- pects to trial under a Scottish or American
ments are the deployment of security per- system of justice, with a few reservations.
sonnel overseas and at the nation’s major We have, in addition, insisted on the fol-
airports; the hiring of hundreds of aviation lowing: Gary L. Colasanti
security specialists; and the creation of a • Gadhafi must fully comply with the
robust research and development program United Nations’ resolutions.
to bring new security equipment online • All sanctions are to remain in force.
along with better-trained equipment opera- • Libya must renounce terrorism and cease
tors, as well as an automated passenger- all support to terrorist organizations.
screening program, an expansion of domes- • Under no circumstance will the United
tic passenger bag-matching, and an aircraft States government permit the trial to be
hardening program to reduce aircraft vul- conducted under the auspices of the World
nerability to explosive devices. Scot Marsh Cory
Court or an international tribunal; it must
“Perhaps most importantly, the FAA is be conducted under Scottish or American
working with airlines on the world’s largest systems of justice, with Scottish or
deployment of aviation security equipment, American judges.
including nearly 500 trace-detection devices
and 62 CTX-5000s, the FAA’s only certified REMEMBERING THOSE LOST
explosives detection system,” Flynn says.
“The agency’s most significant challenge is
follow-through on plans to purchase and
I n the meantime,as December 21 approached,
several events commemorating the 10th
anniversary were already under way. Ob-
deploy $100 million worth of this equipment servances began with the University Col- Gretchen Joyce Dater
annually over the next four years and to lege Summer Lecture Series at the Maxwell
make sure that all who operate the new sys- School on campus. Residents of Ramsey,
tems are properly trained.” New Jersey, where Gretchen grew up, gath-
The other area of significant develop- ered for an ecumenical, community-wide
ment is progress toward a criminal trial. In memorial service at the local Roman
August, the American and British govern- Catholic church on No-
vember 8. It was ac-
courtesy of joan dater
companied by com-
munity-wide church Shannon Davis
bell ringing and a Si-
lent Walk for Justice
on the way to the
Ramsey Public Library,
where Gretchen’s art-
work was again on
A Service of Com-
memoration was held
Turhan Michael Ergin
simultaneously on De-
cember 21 in Hen-
dricks Chapel, at Dry-
fesdale Cemetery in
Lockerbie, at West-
minster Abbey in Lon-
Joan Dater, left, and Tom Dater are joined by New Jersey Congresswoman Marge don, and at Arlington
Roukema at an art exhibition of Gretchen’s work in their hometown of Ramsey,
New Jersey. National Cemetery in
John P. Flynn
W I N T E R 1 9 9 8 / 9 9
Virginia, site of the Memorial Cairn. The
Suspects to Trial
cairn was financed and erected by fami-
ly members of the victims and their
friends. Its stones, quarried and cut near
Lockerbie, were a gift from the people of
Scotland to the people of the United
States in memory of our lost loved ones. An SU international law expert shares her views
President Clinton, in stating his wish
to be with us in Arlington for the 10th on the pending case against the alleged terrorists
memorial observance, wrote: “Through- By Gary Pallassino
out the years since that awful day, the
American people have held fast to the he bomb that exploded aboard Pan Am specialist in international law and the
memory of these innocents and shared Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 Middle East, Arzt directs the law school’s
your grief. Our nation has also main- ignited an international legal controversy Center for Global Law and Practice. This
tained a steadfast resolve that justice be that smolders even today. spring she will teach a new course on inter-
brought to bear against those who per- The bombing killed the plane’s 259 pas- national criminal law.
petrated this terrible deed. Today, I know sengers and crew and 11 people on the
that determination remains unshak- ground in Lockerbie. Among the dead were HOW did the trial come to be held
able, and I reaffirm to you that we will 189 Americans, including 35 students from in the Netherlands?
not rest from our efforts until those Syracuse University’s Division of Inter- Originally Libya argued that the sus-
responsible pay for their crimes.... The national Programs Abroad. In November pects should only be tried in a Muslim
world must not be allowed to let the 1991, the United States and Scotland each court under Islamic law. Over the years, a
memory of this crime fade from sight.” charged Libyan nationals Abdel Basset Ali number of third parties, including the Arab
Only time will advance the varied and al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah League, the Organization of African Unity,
multi-layered issues surrounding the with murder and conspiracy to murder— and a Scottish professor of international
bombing. Ten years later, and 10 years crimes that carry maximum sentences of law, proposed that the trial be held in a
older, I wonder if I will live to see perma- 30 years’ imprisonment under Scottish law neutral third country. This past summer,
nent and just rewards for our efforts. If and the death penalty under U.S. federal Libya announced publicly that it would
not, my deepest fear will be realized— law. Since then, Libya has refused to sur- accept such a compromise and secret nego-
that Gretchen, her fellow passengers, render the men, and the three countries tiations took place involving all of these
and 11 residents of Lockerbie died in have wrangled over how and where to try parties, the Netherlands, and the U.N.
vain. We Americans must not let that them. At press time, plans were under way Secretariat. For a while, negotiations were
happen. to conduct a trial at The Hague in the stalled over the issue of who would serve
Netherlands. on the court: Libya wanted a panel of
Joan L. Dater of Ramsey, New Jersey, is a Syracuse University Magazine asked “international judges,” while Scotland and
member of the advocacy group Victims College of Law professor Donna Arzt to dis- the United States insisted on a Scottish
of Pan American Flight 103. cuss the case and its possible outcomes. A jury just like the one that would be impan-
COMMEMORATIVE GLOBE HONORS VICTIMS
n honor of the 270 victims who died in the December December 21 service in Arlington, was scheduled to pre-
I 1988 Pan Am 103 bombing, the Victims of Pan Am 103
advocacy group has commissioned the Lockerbie
Remembrance Globe. “With the 10th anni-
sent commemorative globes to President Clinton and
other top government officials, as well as Chancel-
lor Kenneth A. Shaw.“We appreciate how peo-
versary, we decided it was very important to ple have kept in touch and how friendships
have a commemorative piece,” says Victims have stayed strong and grown stronger,”
of Pan Am 103 member Jane Schultz, who Schultz says.“The globe is a nice way for all
lost her son,Thomas, in the bombing. of us to remember the friends and family
The glass water globe combines repre- we lost.”
sentations from three memorials—the Cairn To order a globe, send a $30 check
at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, (made out to 10th Commemorative Globe)
the Garden of Remembrance at the Dryfes- to: Victims of Pan Am 103, P.O. Box 1106,
dale Cemetery and the Remembrance Room Ridgefield, CT 06877. Include your name, ad-
in Tundergarth Churchyard, both in Lockerbie. dress, and phone number. The price, which
The globe, mounted on a wooden base, includes shipping and handling, covers the
contains a music box that plays Amazing group’s cost, plus expenses, for creating
Grace. Schultz, who helped organize the the globe.
S Y R A C U S E
U N I V E R S I T Y M A G A Z I N E
eled in a courtroom in Scotland. (Libya’s ver- Netherlands plan, arguing that it sets a
sion would have been highly impractical, dangerous precedent for terrorists to dic-
given that few judges outside Scotland are tate terms of their own trials. But this is
familiar with Scottish law!) clearly an exceptional case, since suspected
Finally, in late August, the United States terrorists, when they are identified, are usu-
and United Kingdom announced they ally either beyond reach or caught by the
Pamela Elaine Herbert
would agree to convening in the Neth- state that wants to prosecute them. Both
erlands a Scottish court, operating under Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and
Scottish criminal procedure and penal law, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook insist
and presided over by a panel of three the plan is designed not as a concession to
Scottish judges. The U.N. Security Council terrorists, but to call Libya’s bluff. If they
then issued a new, unanimous resolution succeed in calling Libya’s bluff, they may
calling on Libya to transfer the suspects to get further sanctions imposed, such as a
the Netherlands, make evidence and wit- complete oil embargo.
nesses available to the court, and also coop-
erate with French authorities investigating ARE there precedents Karen Lee Hunt
the 1989 bombing of a French airplane over for such a trial?
Niger, which killed 171 people. In return, the The closest precedents, such as the
Security Council would suspend economic Nuremberg Trials, were international
sanctions that have been in effect since courts trying international law. Of course,
1992. Additional sanctions would be changes of venue from one jurisdiction to
imposed on Libya if the two are not prompt- another are common within the U.S. legal
ly turned over for trial. system: Witness the movement of the
Timothy McVeigh trial from Oklahoma
WHAT are the advantages and City to Denver. While that took place with-
disadvantages for Libya in having Christopher Andrew Jones
in the common jurisdiction of U.S. law, the
the trial in a third country? principle behind a move to the Neth-
Libya undoubtedly wants an end to the erlands is similar—to ensure that the trial
U.N. sanctions that banned air travel to and is not prejudiced by the hostility of the
from Libya, barred the sale of weapons and local population.
some oil equipment, and froze its foreign
assets. Many African states have already WILL justice be served?
agreed to ignore the sanctions, and Libya is It all depends on your definition of jus-
probably banking on this momentum to tice, and I’m sure that Moammar Gadhafi
seek their ultimate elimination. But we can has a different one from Attorney General Julianne F. Kelly
clearly see from its equivocation that it Janet Reno or the Scottish Crown Office.
doesn’t want to appear to be capitulating to But if you consider that a trial is always a
Western ultimatums. I would suspect that compromise between fairness and expedi-
national dignity is more important to ency in the search for truth, then I think
Moammar Gadhafi than concern for the that justice is possible. Scottish criminal
rights of the two individual nationals. But law, no matter where it is applied, is pre-
he may also be worried that under the pres- sumably fair to defendants. After 10 years
sure of prosecution, they may implicate of waiting, it is pragmatic to hold the trial
other Libyan officials in the Pan Am 103 outside Scotland rather than to never hold Wendy A. Lincoln
plot, if not also in the entire Middle East ter- it at all.
rorist infrastructure. However, there are many potential traps
for the unwary. If the defendants are con-
WHAT are the advantages and victed, Libya and possibly its allies may
disadvantages for the United States retort that the trial was unfair from the
and United Kingdom? start. If they are acquitted, many of the vic-
Clearly, the United States and United tims’ families will be crushed. From what
Kingdom would prefer the trial be held in I’ve read, the evidence against these two
either of their own countries, at the very suspects is rather flimsy, based on an unre- Alexander Lowenstein
least, and not appear to be undermining the liable eyewitness identification. It is equally
prestige and integrity of their own criminal if not more plausible that the true culprits
justice systems. But as the British represen- had Iranian or Syrian rather than Libyan
tative to the Security Council explained, this connections, or at the very least, that these
proposal has been made in the interest of Libyans were not acting alone. Therefore, a
justice and to bring an end to the years of truly fair trial may result in their acquittal.
waiting by the victims’ families. In other words, while the trial may serve
Some of the families are critical of the justice, it might not produce satisfaction.
Suzanne Marie Miazga
W I N T E R 1 9 9 8 / 9 9
Remembering LOST C L A S S M AT E S
TOGETHER Jason had sent days earlier, wishing me and
courtesy of mike toole
in my heart By Mike Toole
my family a Merry Christmas from London.
She asked me when he was coming home. I
didn’t know the exact day, but I knew it
would be sometime that week, and that he
T here are dates that will always stick in
your mind. For some it’s personal, like
the day you were married. For others it’s his-
would call when he got settled in.
As I talked to my mother, my father was
in the other room watching the news, and
torical, like the day President Kennedy was called us in. He said a plane had just crashed
assassinated. December 21, 1988, is both for in Scotland, and there were people from
me—the day three of my friends were mur- Syracuse on board. All of a sudden, some-
dered on Pan Am Flight 103. thing felt terribly wrong.
Eric Coker. Jason Coker. Gary Colasanti. I knew Gary was coming home that
All three names appear together—on the night. Earlier that day, my friend Laura told Mike Toole, left, with Jason Coker in November 1987.
passenger list, on memorials in Syracuse me she was going to Kennedy Airport to
and Lockerbie, and in my heart. meet him in the evening. Could it be the experiences with their wonderful sons. To
Gary was a pledge brother of mine in fall same plane? I called my roommates back at this day, I wish there was something I could
1987 at Sigma Alpha Epsilon. I admit I didn’t school. They said they had been trying to do for them, because my loss and sense of
know Gary that well. Other friends of mine call me, but the line was busy (my brother pain is nothing compared to theirs.
were much closer to him. Pan Am 103 had been on the phone). Not only was Gary When we returned to school in January,
robbed me, and many others, of the oppor- on the plane, but so were Jason and Eric. My there was an emotional memorial service at
tunity to know him better. heart sank, my face froze, and my body the Carrier Dome and Hendricks Chapel. I
Eric was Jason’s twin brother. He was a went numb. The only thing that snapped will never forget that day. It was the first step
junior at the University of Rochester, study- me out of it was that another friend of ours, in a long healing process. I may not have
ing in London as part of SU’s program. He Tim Houlihan, Gary’s roommate, took been able to see them and talk to them any-
was intelligent, extremely funny, and another flight and made it home safely. more, but I could write to them. The Univer-
Jason’s best friend. They came into this I felt totally lost. I hung up the phone and sity provided books to write in, one for each
world together and they left it together. I told my parents. They were speechless. I was student killed, that would be turned over to
met Eric through Jason, who was my room- speechless. I left the house and drove to that student’s family afterward.
mate at Syracuse. church—I didn’t know what else to do. When I wrote to Gary and Eric, wishing we had
Jason’s loss hit me the hardest. He was the I got there, I sat alone in the dark and talked been given more time to get to know each
first person I met at Syracuse. He was also to myself, to God, and to Jason, Eric, and Gary. other. Then I wrote to Jason, remembering
the first person to dare me to think about the This was the only way I could talk to them the good times, and wishing he was still
world around me. He was incredibly quick, now. There would be no phone calls, no let- here. I broke down in tears. My friend Matt
like a comedian. He could take a person with ters, no stories at Chuck’s about London. Allen, someone I met through Jason, con-
a huge ego and cut him down to size in an I was sad and angry. How could this hap- soled me. Matt was just one of many people
instant. He enjoyed beer, women, and sports pen? They were good people. Good things I became closer to because of this tragedy.
like any other 20-year-old guy. But, unlike happen to good people—right? Well, what The spring semester was a somber one.
most 20-year-olds, he was very aware of na- the hell was this? No answers—from Jason, We all managed to get through it by being
tional and international events. He was well- Eric, Gary, or from God. It was time to grow there for one another. I became tighter with
read. He had traveled to the Soviet Union in up. My life and many other lives were never my roommates and many of my other
high school. It was this passion for learning going to be the same. friends. We all grew up very fast in the
and exploring that led him to London, and I drove home, calmer, but still confused. I spring of 1989.
eventually led me there as well. watched Headline News all night, staring at Matt went to London in the fall of 1989.
While they were seeing the world in the the flames in Lockerbie and at the grief at He went to Lockerbie, and told me I should
fall of 1988, my friends and I were waiting Kennedy Airport. I also stared at the go sometime. Jason never understood why I
for them to come home, to hear their stories Christmas card, from a friend who was no didn’t want to spend a semester abroad. But
and ask them questions. “How was it?” longer with us, a friend I could never write I was too wrapped up in my major, my
“What did you see?” “Where did you go?” back to. internships, my fraternity, sports, and col-
“Should I do it?” Several days passed. I talked with other lege life in general to leave. “I’ll go to Europe
Shortly after noon on December 21, 1988, I friends from the London program, trying to when I graduate,” I said.
left my apartment at Grover Cleveland and find out what their semester was like and As fate would have it, I became ill in the
drove six hours home to Massachusetts. My what it was like for Jason, Eric, and Gary. fall of 1989, and missed the semester. I
semester was over. When I got home that I went to their funerals, met their fami- would have to graduate a semester late. I
evening, my mother showed me a card lies, and shared what I could about my decided I would finish in London.
S Y R A C U S E U N I V E R S I T Y M A G A Z I N E
I had the time of my life in the fall of 1990. at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house after tak-
I saw what Jason, Eric, and Gary saw. I took ing a final exam and found out as I stepped
classes in the same rooms they did. I lived in through the door. It was known that a group
the same neighborhood they did. I drank in of Syracuse University students studying in
the same pubs they did. London was on board. Two of our fraternity
I also went to Lockerbie. I saw where each brothers were studying in London.
Richard Paul Monetti
of them landed. It is one of the most peaceful I headed up to my room when the special
places on all the earth. The people of telephone number set up by Pan Am flashed
Lockerbie are the kindest you will ever meet. on the screen. Five minutes later I was con-
There is no explaining this tragedy. It firming the fears of the growing group in
should not have happened. I wish it never did. the living room. Gary Colasanti had boarded
Ten years later, I still miss them, especially Flight 103.
Jason. I keep saying to myself—I wish he The SAE house was just a couple of doors
could see me now, he would be proud. Then I down from the Catholic Center. A daily late
realize he can see me, because a part of him afternoon Mass was held in a small chapel Anne Lindsey Otenasek
still lives on to this day—as a part of me. that I tried to get to once a week. Struggling
with what to do next, a couple of us headed
Mike Toole ’90 is a newswriter and sports there followed by a group of 8 or 10 more,
producer at WABC-TV in New York City. few of them Catholic, a few who weren’t
Christians. The differences of theology and
religious politics that we sometimes dis-
cussed didn’t seem very important.
Father Charles Borgognoni had heard the
THE HILL’S news only minutes before Mass. He was the
darkest day By Kevin O’Neill
most emotional I had seen him in four years.
If you have attended a Catholic wedding,
you will be surprised to learn that the daily
Peter R. Peirce
Mass usually lasts only 15 minutes. On that
W hen I used to visit the park growing
up, my father occasionally scolded
me for playing too close to a memorial for
day it was longer. Students continued to
arrive after it was completed, young people
searching for answers to the unanswerable.
war veterans. I respected his wishes, but That afternoon we lost friends and col-
didn’t quite understand the importance of a leagues. Acquaintances and classmates.
wall with a bunch of names on it. Boyfriends, girlfriends, brothers, and sisters. Sarah S.B. Philipps
Ten years later I wonder if the students The pain of those around us magnified our
who pass the Place of Remembrance outside grief. Almost everyone I knew lost someone
the Hall of Languages see it as anything important. A girl I was dating lost a sorority
more than just a wall with a bunch of names sister. A classmate lost a girl he loved. As bad
on it. as we felt, we all knew someone who felt
To the Syracuse University classes of 1989 worse. Anyone who was on campus will
to 1992, that Pan Am 103 victims memorial is never forget that day.
much more than names. It honors classmates That evening we went to an emotional
lost on a dreadful day, December 21, 1988. Hendricks Chapel prayer service led by clergy Frederick “Sandy” Phillips
Memories from that afternoon, and the days of various denominations who ministered
that follow, will remain with us forever. on campus. In our grief, we went back to our
Some details of those days are fuzzy. I dorms, houses, and apartments to discover
don’t remember what the weather was like. we were part of the news. The service was on
If I had to guess, I’d go with cold and dank. the network news specials, sandwiched
But I have dozens of recollections of late between live reports from a shattered
December 1988 that are as vivid as any in my Scottish village and grim-faced anchormen
memory. Looking back I see that those days asking questions of the aviation and terror-
changed me. But it’s a growth process I wish ism experts kept handy for such occasions.
I’d never experienced. Gary Colasanti was from the North Shore Louise “Luann” Rogers
It happened just as the semester was of Boston, and I lived about an hour south. I
wrapping up, toward the end of final exams. liked Gary and had looked forward to his re-
Per the plan of the terrorists, it happened to turn. He had a zest for life that was conta-
people heading home to their loved ones, gious and was the kind of person everyone
people looking forward to the holidays. liked to be around. We were friends, but he
Like many others, I remember where I was was younger and we weren’t best friends.
the moment I heard. I had just arrived home Although it clearly was the thing to do in ret-
Thomas Britton Schultz
W I N T E R 1 9 9 8 / 9 9
rospect, I struggled over whether to contact
his family after returning home from
Syracuse. I wondered if it would be pre-
sumptuous or inconsiderate for me to call.
Remembrance Keep the Memor y Alive
Fortunately, I did call and visit them,
By David Rubin
and will never forget how warmly they
greeted me in their grief. The house full icture, if you will, 35 Syracuse University stu- demic achievements, their work experi-
of family and friends should have been dents walking softly, single file, down the ences, and their volunteerism.
celebrating Christmas Eve, but instead center aisle of Hendricks Chapel, each carry- The heart of the application is three essay
was mourning the loss of a son, one with ing a small lighted candle. The students questions. The first asks what lessons can be
so much talent and promise. I quietly told gently place the candles along the front of drawn from the bombing for today’s world.
them of a memorial service SAE was the stage so they form a glowing ring. Then This tests their awareness of current events
planning for Gary in Syracuse in January they take their seats. and their grasp of political and terrorist
and was pleased that they would plan to So begins the most poignant campus developments. The second essay asks why
attend. Shortly before I left, I cautiously gathering of the year: the ceremony recog- the applicant believes she or he is Re-
told them one of a dozen or so funny sto- nizing the 35 new Remembrance Scholars. membrance material; specifically, how the
ries about Gary that I had thought of in While it is a celebration of their achieve- life the applicant has lived matches the spir-
the days following the bombing. Their ments in the classroom and community, it of the victims. The third essay permits
reaction told me my caution was unnec- memories of the 35 victims of the bombing applicants to profile themselves and discuss
essary. I should have provided them with of Pan Am 103 are constantly with those in the cultural, intellectual, and familial influ-
upbeat memories of Gary and the people attendance. Thoughts of what might have ences that have shaped their lives.
he touched from the moment I walked in been for those victims are ever present. Grief The 200 written applications are given to
the door. often overwhelms pride in the achieve- a team of 24 selection committee members.
The Colasantis’grief was shared that day ments of the living, and tears flow freely. Twelve are SU faculty or staff members, and
by the families of 270 victims, 35 of them Parents of many of the victims return to 12 are current scholars. They are divided into
with ties to Syracuse University. I think campus for this ceremony. These parents, six teams of four persons each. In round
about the disaster that punished these who have suffered so much, find comfort in one, each team reviews between 30 and 35
families and our campus quite often. the achievements of the Remembrance applications. The teams select the top 10 or
I think about it every time victims’ Scholars. The parents give strength to the rest 11 for advancement into round two.
friends and family members are made of us, who can hardly bear to meet their gaze. Each finalist is then interviewed by a team
part of the story. I remember the poor The ceremony lasts an hour or so. (one that didn’t review the paper record).
mother writhing in agony on the floor at Chancellor Shaw speaks. A member of the These interviews can be stressful affairs—
JFK Airport, which TV news people cal- selection committee—representing the fac- and are meant to be. The judges want to
lously beamed around the world. I some- ulty and staff—speaks. And one of the 35 explore each candidate’s sincerity, sophistica-
times wonder if the Syracuse alumni who Remembrance Scholars speaks on behalf of tion, breadth of knowledge, and grace under
permeate the news business have that the group. The chapel choir sings. Each pressure. We look for that fire in the eyes that
same memory before they show hysteri- scholar is then called to the stage to be rec- identifies a person sure to make a significant
cal parents arriving at the scene of a ognized by name. The ceremony is followed contribution to society. The entire group of
schoolyard shooting. by a reception, where the sadness is swept judges then discusses the candidates and
I think about it every time I see a group away by the scholars’ optimism as they look makes the final 35 choices.
of young people traveling together on forward to finishing their senior year and Shortly after the bombing, the University
some adventure. I think about it every getting on with the business of life. received some significant donations to
time I travel internationally and have For the many high-achievers in the SU launch this scholarship program. But the
patience at security checkpoints that I student body, winning a Remembrance majority of the 35 are still funded from the
seldom exhibit anywhere else. Scholarship—which is worth $5,000 general scholarship pool. This year—to
I thought about it when Chancellor toward senior-year expenses—is the cap- mark the 10th anniversary of the bombing
Eggers died, recalling the grace he stone to an academic career. The grapevine as well as the Commitment to Learning
showed representing us all. I think about wisdom on what it takes to win a campaign—SU is seeking to attract addi-
it during graduation season, remember- Remembrance Scholarship is quite accu- tional gifts to support the scholarships.
ing my own commencement and the rate, so considerable self-selection occurs. Donors can be confident that their gifts
presence of the mayor of Lockerbie. Students know strong classroom perfor- support seniors who exemplify the best this
I think about it every time terrorists mance is mandatory—a grade point aver- University has to offer—students with a
strike, wondering whose god could possi- age of at least 3.2, and often much higher. sense of history who will build communi-
bly be served by the death of innocents. But grades alone don’t admit one into this ties, students who have taken up the impor-
I think about it every December, and circle. Remembrance Scholars should em- tant work that the victims of Pan Am 103
wonder why I have gone another year body the qualities of exploration, volun- were not permitted to finish.
without writing to Gary’s family to tell teerism, and achievement that marked the
them that I think of him and of them. lives of the 35 victims. David Rubin is dean of the S.I. Newhouse
Typically some 200 students apply for the School of Public Communications and serves
Kevin O’Neill ’89 is 35 scholarships. They fill out lengthy appli- as chair of the Remembrance Scholars
a marketing consultant in Atlanta. cations that ask them to describe their aca- Selection Committee.
S Y R A C U S E U N I V E R S I T Y M A G A Z I N E
Maintain Ties with SU
By Tammy Conklin
iona Drysdale was only 8 years old in 1988, O’Rourke stays in frequent contact with Amy Elizabeth Shapiro
but she vividly remembers the Pan Am the scholars once they arrive on campus.
Flight 103 air disaster and the impact that Being thousands of miles from home, the
single event had on her hometown of scholars quickly learn the value of their
Lockerbie, Scotland. “The crash had a devas- friendships with O’Rourke. “It is great to
tating effect on everyone,” Drysdale recalls. have someone like her on campus,”
“It is still so much a part of life there.” Drysdale says. “She is kind of like a surro-
Drysdale also noticed how deep and emo- gate mom.”
tional the bond between Lockerbie and Drysdale and Younger also benefit from
Syracuse became over the past 10 years. It is having each other. “If I had been the only Cynthia J. Smith
a bond that has shifted from one of sorrow scholar, I’m not sure I could have done it,”
to one of friendship and healing, she says. “I Younger says. “It’s been a lot easier being
think, somehow, Lockerbie will always be here with Fiona.”
connected to Syracuse.” Although none of the 18 previous
This year Drysdale and Alison Younger Lockerbie Scholars chose to complete under-
attend classes at Syracuse University as graduate degrees at SU, the experience pro-
Lockerbie Scholars. The two are friends and vides some much-appreciated cultural
former classmates at Lockerbie Academy. awareness, O’Rourke says. “For the most
Each year since the tragedy occurred, two part, the students’ experiences here at SU
students from the academy have spent have been very positive.” Mark Lawrence Tobin
their first year of college at SU. Tuition and Drysdale, a special education major,
fees are paid by the Lockerbie Trust and SU. wanted to attend SU because the University
The trust was established by SU and Lock- has such a high profile in her community. A
erbie to ensure a year’s study at SU for two display on the University is updated all
of the village’s students. According to Judith year, and former Lockerbie Scholars return
O’Rourke, a local coordinator of the Lock- to Lockerbie Academy each year to share
erbie Scholars program and executive assis- their SU experiences. “I realized that it was
tant to the vice president for Undergrad- the chance of a lifetime,” Drysdale says.
uate Studies, selection is based in part on a Younger, a School of Management stu- Alexia Kathryn Tsairis
written essay. The essays are reviewed by dent, wasn’t as familiar with SU, but was
three members of the Lockerbie Trust and excited by the prospect of beginning her
two SU faculty members in London. The college career in the United States. “For me,
finalists are interviewed by trust members. it was just the right time,” Younger
“This program was started as an ongoing explains. “Even though I had already been
tribute,” O’Rourke says. “It has worked out accepted to university back home, it was
very well for us, and for the students.” the right thing to do.”
Drysdale was surprised by
how deeply the tragedy seems Nicholas Andreas Vrenios
lawrence mason jr.
etched into the collective con-
sciousness of the University. “I
think the memorial has a lot to
do with that,” she says. “It is a
very appropriate tribute.”
Younger agrees.“The memorial
is very subtle. You walk up from
Marshall Street and there it is.”
Of the tragedy that will forev- Kesha Weedon
er join Lockerbie and Syracuse,
Drysdale says the healing is
ongoing. “I will never forget
what happened, I don’t think
anyone in Lockerbie ever will,
The Remembrance Room was added to a chapel at Tundergarth but everything moves on. To do
Mains, a cemetery in Lockerbie. Inside is the Book of Remembrance,
where a page is dedicated to each bombing victim. The cemetery was
so is a testimony to the lives
where much of the plane wreckage was recovered. that were lost.”
Miriam Luby Wolfe
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