Students reflect on the lives lost in Pan Am Flight 103 at Syracuse's open archives

Students had the chance to reflect on the lives lost in the Pan Am Flight 103 attack over Lockerbie, Scotland and on the Remembrance Week motto "Look back, act forward" at Syracuse University's open archives.

The Pan Am Flight 103 archives have opened their doors for another year as Syracuse University celebrates Remembrance Week and honors those whose lives were lost in the bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. The archives hold artifacts from the 35 SU students who died during the attack as well as items and information on all 270 victims of the flight that crashed on December 21, 1988.

The small archive that started in 1990 has now become a vast collection of letters, photos, videos and personal items of the victims and the crash. Those who visit the archives, which are available year-round but are on special display during Remembrance Week, find themselves immersed in the lives of the victims.

“It would be impossible to spend time with these materials and not look at the Pan Am 103 event differently," said Vanessa St. Oegger-Menn, the Pan Am Flight 103 archivist and assistant university archivist. "There is an importance to remembering the 270 that were lost not just as victims but as people.” 

Each of the students who lost their lives on the flight have something on display that represents them. Items range from photos of the victims to work they did as an SU student. Many items were donated by family members or the school, but some items were found with the victim after the crash.

2017 Remembrance Scholar Hannah Rebar said she likes to look at the archives as way to remember each student as an individual.

“I think it is important as a scholar to carry a little piece of these lost lives with you," she said. "Because they couldn’t live out their lives.”

Others viewing the exhibit agreed that the items presented allow people to see the victims for who they were when they were alive. Many who looked through the artifacts found the student’s stories and artifacts relatable as they, too, had studied abroad and written letters home describing their experiences.

The archives also give people a chance to think about the changes in the world since this attack and to reflect on the acts of terrorism that have occurred recently. Several students said the archives remind them of the strong message of Remembrance Week, “Look Back, Act Forward.”

“It comes back to the concept of looking back and acting forward and the archives allow us to look back and help us move forward and be productive in a happy way,” said SU public relations junior Hannah Butler. “Nothing can make terrorism good or right but it is nice to see how we have come together and we can learn from our past to make the future better.”



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