Remembering Pan Am Flight 103

The SU community honors victims of one of its darkest days during the annual ceremony for the Lockerbie, Scotland, tragedy.

Eric Coker and Jason Coker were students, twin brothers and witty jokesters. This is how Barbara Primeau describes her sons.

On Dec. 21, 1988, a terrorist bomb exploded on Pan Am Flight 103, claiming the lives of her two sons and 268 others.

Twenty-one years later, members of the Syracuse University community joined together on a sunny Friday afternoon in bittersweet remembrance of the 35 students who died on Pan Am 103 in Lockerbie, Scotland.

Photo: Cheryl Mowczan
Scholars lined up during the ceremony to lay roses at the Memorial site, in remembrance of the Syracuse University students who lost their lives.

The 21st annual Rose Laying Ceremony commenced at 2:03 p.m., as trumpeters played “Amazing Grace.”   A moment of silence soon followed. For those few minutes, only leaves rustling on the ground could interrupt the chilling sound of silence.

The 35 Remembrance Scholars descended from the Hall of Languages to the Wall of Remembrance. Each gave a short speech about one of the SU victims of the flight. Some held their composure, some had to hold back the tears. Then, one by one, they put down a single red rose.

Primeau tries to make it up to Syracuse every year for this occasion, she said. This year, she came up with her family.

After 21 years, she still grieves.

“When I’m by myself, I’m very melancholy,” she said.

Though they were twins, her sons had different interests, Primeau said. Jason wanted to write; he was actually a writer for the Daily Orange.

Eric dreamed of working for the Federal Reserve Board. “He wanted Allen Greenspan’s job,” Primeau said.

Primeau remembers spending Thanksgiving with her sons. Primeau and her husband shared custody of the twins, but “I always got them at Thanksgiving,” she said. Since then, “we don’t really do Thanksgiving anymore.”

After 21 years, speaking about the tragedy still brings tears to her eyes.

“I will always miss them. They would have made the world a better place.”

Laura Borgwardt spoke during Friday's Rose Laying ceremony at The Wall of Remembrance.

Special Video: 

Watch the Orange Television Network documentary, Remembering Pan Am Flight 103, produced in 2008 for the 20th anniversary of the tragedy.

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.