Syracuse University Marks 30 Years of Remembrance

Looking Back. Acting Forward.

In the 30 years since the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, the Syracuse University community, along with residents of Lockerbie, Scotland, have followed through with Chancellor Eggers' promise of remembrance. 

Remembrance scholars and community members take part in a candlelight vigil at the Place of Remembrance

On January 18, 1989, Chancellor Melvin A. Eggers stood in Syracuse University’s Carrier Dome and made a promise.

He told the grieving parents of the University’s 35 study abroad students killed in the December 21, 1988, bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, that their “sons and daughters will be remembered at Syracuse University so long as any of us shall live and so long as the University shall stand.”

At that time, Eggers announced the creation of 35 memorial scholarships, as well as the University’s intention to construct a permanent physical memorial—the Place of Remembrance—in front of the Hall of Languages.

Chancellor Melvin Eggers addressing the University community in the Carrier Dome
Chancellor Melvin Eggers addressing the University community.

“There will be memorials of other kinds,” Eggers stated, “in our striving to be an ever more humane institution and in our working, in the time left to us, to make our contribution to a better world.”

Over the ensuing 30 years, Syracuse University has held fast to that promise.

Although they were born nearly a decade after the disaster, 35 Remembrance Scholars currently attend Syracuse University, carrying on the legacies of the students who didn’t return to Syracuse and to their promising lives. Including the 2018-19 cohort, there are now more than 1,000 Remembrance Scholars that have accepted the charge to “Look Back and Act Forward” in memory of the students and victims who were lost—during their year as Remembrance Scholars and throughout their lives.

“Through this experience, the scholars have the opportunity to make all of these special and personal connections with the 35 students we lost and especially with their families,” said Jezrel Sabaduquia, a senior information management and technology major from New York City who was the representative voice of the Remembrance Scholars at a November 2 convocation honoring the scholars. “Any of those 35 students could have been our friends, our partners, or even ourselves. It has been an emotional journey for all of us but an immense privilege and honor to be part of.”

The Remembrance Week activities began October 28 with a candlelight vigil.

The strong bond between Lockerbie and Syracuse was highlighted in many ways throughout the week. Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell visited campus and placed a memorial wreath at the Place of Remembrance. Oliver Mundell, member of Scottish Parliament, also visited. Five cyclists from Lockerbie, emergency service workers, and the head teacher of Lockerbie Academy completed Cycle to Syracuse—The Lockerbie Memorial Tour 2018, a 3,238-mile journey from Lockerbie to highlight the strong bond between Lockerbie and Syracuse and to raise awareness of mental health issues. The ride was conceived by Colin Dorrance, a citizen of Lockerbie who was a first responder to the disaster in 1988 as an 18-year-old police cadet. Dorrance is the father of two previous Lockerbie Scholars.

They say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.

Members of the University community wore buttons representing all 270 victims of the disaster, an idea developed by Remembrance and Lockerbie Ambassador and Professor Lawrence Mason Jr. He found inspiration in the popular quote, “They say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.” 

“I think this is at the heart of what Remembrance is,” Mason said. “We provide a place where all 270 Pan Am 103 victims are remembered. We’ll go on saying their names, and we will act forward in their honor.”

As the 30th anniversary of the Lockerbie air disaster is commemorated, Chancellor Kent Syverud looks to the future and how the University will continue to look forward.

Time passes and change happens, but, Chancellor Syverud said, remembering the past is not inconsistent with change.

Chairs set on the Quad to symbolize seat positions of the SU students on Pan Am Flight 103
Chairs set on the Quad to symbolize seat positions of the SU students on Pan Am Flight 103

“If you know your past, you can make change that is consistent with the people and the values that come before,” he said. “That is what these Remembrance and Lockerbie Scholars have been doing for 30 years—understanding the people affected by an act of terror and violence and hate, thinking hard about how those people might have grown and changed over a lifetime, and paying forward those values and dreams in a new world, in a new millennium that those who were lost were not permitted to enjoy.”

Four sophomore students traveled to Lockerbie in October to engage with the residents of Lockerbie. They came back with recommendations, currently under consideration, on how to act forward to strengthen the University’s relationship with Lockerbie in new and meaningful ways.

“Syracuse University is committed to our partnership with Lockerbie and to acting forward in remembrance,” Chancellor Syverud said.

“I look forward to change in two old places, Syracuse and Lockerbie. I look forward to change in remembrance of those we lost and in hope for a better future together.” The Place of Remembrance has stood at the gateway to campus for 29 years. On November 2, it was the site of the Rose-Laying Ceremony. University leaders, Pan Am 103 families and friends, alumni and dignitaries from Scotland were among those who joined the Remembrance and Lockerbie Scholars to lay roses at the wall and remember those who were taken too soon.

Among those offering remarks that afternoon were Harriet Graham and Joseph Holland, the 2018-19 Lockerbie-Syracuse Scholars. For 29 years, two students from Lockerbie—58 in total—have come to Syracuse for a year of study and cultural exchange. During Remembrance Week, Graham and Holland represented the 11 Lockerbie residents lost in the disaster and 2002-03 Lockerbie Scholar Andrew McClune.

“It is now 30 years since the Pan Am 103 disaster, an incident that has shaped not only Lockerbie and Syracuse, but the world,” Holland said. “Since that fateful night, and with time passing at such an incredible speed, it highlights the importance of our continued remembrance of all those involved, pulling together to execute the motto of ‘looking back, acting forward’ with vigor and hope, desiring and striving for a better world without terrorism."

Kelly Rodoski

This story was first published on December 20, 2018 and last updated on .


Also of Interest

  • Remembrance Week

    Each year in the fall, Syracuse University observes Remembrance Week. Events are designed by the Remembrance Scholars whose goal is to raise campus and community awareness of terrorism.

  • Remembrance Scholarship

    The Remembrance Scholarship is one of the highest awards a Syracuse University student can receive

  • Pan Am Flight 103 Archives

    This site is dedicated to the 270 men, women and children whose lives were lost in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland on December 21, 1988.