Pan Am lives remembered during Rose Laying Ceremony

Remembrance Scholars and community members place roses on the Wall of Remembrance to commemorate lives lost in Pan Am 103 Flight.

Thirty-five roses were placed on the Wall of Remembrance Friday by 35 students in memory of the 35 lives that were ended 25 years ago.

The 270 victims of the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing, also known as the Lockerbie Bombing, have not been forgotten in the 25 years that have passed since their lives were ended. The passing of a quarter of a century has not appeared to lessen the pain that comes with losing a loved one.

Some of the victims’ families greeted one another with smiles, a tender embrace; but many had visages that were as overcast as the sky above them. Some were solemn during the Rose Laying Ceremony, where Syracuse’s 35 Remembrance Scholars each read a small biography of one of the 35 students who had died and placed a rose on the Wall of Remembrance, which is in front of the Hall of Languages and dedicated to the Pan Am tragedy.

Students lay roses in memory of those who lost their life 25 years ago. (Photo: Taylor Baucom)

Others, dressed in pastels, navy and black, shed a tear as their loved one’s name was called. The air was heavy with silence while the Remembrance Scholars spoke, and the feeling of deep grief consumed the atmosphere.

Once the ceremony had concluded and the sky cleared, so had the atmosphere surrounding the Wall of Remembrance. Some scholars spoke with families and friends while others placed their own flowers beside the white roses and bouquets on the wall.

Each year, 35 SU students are chosen to be Remembrance Scholars, and are granted a $5,000 scholarship. These students are chosen for their citizenship and service to the community, and are responsible for organizing Remembrance Week events.

One such exhibit is the Empty Chairs presentation on the quad which features a set of folding chairs arranged to depict where each of the 35 students were seated on the plane.

“Oh, I can’t look at that,” Joan Dater said of the Empty Chairs exhibit. “I can’t look at that.” Dater lost her daughter, Gretchen, in 1988.

“It’s just not right to lose a kid,” Dater said, teary-eyed. “It’s not supposed to be that way, and that’s what makes it so awful.”

Each Remembrance Scholar represents one of the students who was lost in the bombing, and sometimes, they get to meet the family of that student and hear about the family's experience from 25 years ago.

“I can’t imagine what they went through,” said Remembrance Scholar Allison Roberts.

Lockerbie Scholar, Callum Johnstone, speaks at Friday's Pan Am rose ceremony. (Photo: Taylor Baucom)

SU’s yearly memorialization of the tragedy preserves the lives and stories of the students lost and has developed a community where those affected can find comfort.

Friday’s ceremony was followed by a convocation for the Remembrance Scholars in Hendricks Chapel.

The Scholars’ recognition, along with speeches given by Professor Mark Glauser and Leslie Thomson, the Solicitor General of Scotland, are what washed away the gray that had settled on everyone’s faces. Only after Rabbi Daniel Fellman gave his closing benediction was there a visible change in those who attended the ceremony.

“I feel better,” Dater said. “I feel lifted.”

The Remembrance Scholars of 2013 strive to continue the legacy of all of the lives lost on that plane.

“It’s been a very powerful experience,” Roberts said with a smile.

Remembrance Scholars represent those who's lives were tragically ended 25 years ago in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. (Photo: Taylor Baucom)

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