Remembrance Scholars reflect on 25th anniversary of Pan Am Flight 103

This year marks the 25h anniversary of the Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 35 Syracuse University students.

The candlelight vigil held Monday night at Hendricks Chapel celebrated the lives of those 35 students that perished in the Pan Am Flight 103 terrorist attack over Lockerbie, Scotland, while on their way home from studying abroad. This year marks the 25th anniversary.

“These were 35 students that had a zest for life; that were passionate, motivated, accomplished, had dreams and hopes just like every one of us,” said Alexandra Curtis, Remembrance Scholar and Student Association President.

“If we didn’t celebrate and embody and represent what these individuals stood for, then the whole Pan Am Flight 103 tragedy would be lost.”
- Clifford Jacobs

Students lit candles at Hendricks Chapel in honor of the deceased before the procession to the memorial in front of the Hall of Languages. There the remembrance scholars conveyed the spirit and commemorated the life of each student in a single sentence.

“Anne Lindsey Otenasek was full of life, warmth and unconditional love,” Jessica Lam said.

An inclusive education and special education major, Lam discovered through talking to Peggy Otenasek, Lindsey’s mother, that Lindsey was focusing on special education. It created a connection to her student that could not have existed otherwise.

Clifford Jacobs also reached out to the family of his student, Suzanne Marie Miazga. She was pursuing a master’s degree in social work, which Jacobs plans to complete and dedicate to Miazga.

“She didn’t get the chance to finish,” Jacobs said. “I can act forward in representing her.

“If we didn’t celebrate and embody and represent what these individuals stood for, then the whole Pan Am Flight 103 tragedy would be lost."

The vigil was a chance for the scholars to communicate these connections to an audience.

Tory Brewster, a fifth-year architecture major, explained that it is important to remember tragic events such as this because of the sense of community it promotes.

“It’s a way to look outside of yourself,” Brewster said. “I think that’s something that people don’t do very often.”

The ceremony continued with an a capella performance by the all-male group Orange Appeal. Students fell silent during their rendition of "Turn to Stone" by Ingrid Michaelson. It was a period of reflection and remembrance before the ceremony concluded with students blowing out their candles.

The year’s theme, “Look Back, Act Forward,” reminds Remembrance Scholars to reflect on the lives of the students they represent, and to share their stories in order to carry on their legacy.

“These were real individuals with personality and families,” remembrance scholar Billy Ceskavich said. “They’re not just a figure or statistic.”

The vigil honored the victims, celebrated their lives and reminded students to look back, and act forward. This is not only a theme for the year — it’s a challenge for life.

Senior remembrance scholar Emily Pompelia recalled how her visit to Lockerbie forever changed her perspective on the tragedy.

“Lockerbie has this reputation now,” Pompelia said. “It’s unfortunate because it’s a beautiful town with welcoming people.”

The opportunity to travel to there allowed Pompelia to connect to the tragedy on a deeper level and relate it to the big picture. 

“I think that the worst thing we can do is look at this act of terrorism and be fearful of it,” Pompelia said. “The thing we need to do is act against it and fight against it and not let it be something that makes us afraid in our society.”

Post new comment

* Field must be completed for your comment to appear on The NewsHouse
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.