The yellowed headline of the Syracuse Herald-Journal on December 22, 1988 reads: SABOTAGE SUSPECTED. The sub headings read: "Syracuse mourns its loss" and "Sky was raining bodies". In a pre-internet world that was the way much of our Central New York community learned that the unspeakable tragedy of the afternoon before was caused by the work of someone who planted a bomb on board.
I write this blog tonight a few feet away from the spot where Syracuse Mayor Tom Young and Syracuse University Chancellor Melvin Eggers stood watching the Today Show as they awaited that morning to be interviewed live for the national news program about the immeasureable grief our community was enduring.
The initial reports indicated a Palestinian led group had taken responsibility for this attack. A court at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands would take more than a decade to convict a Libyan agent Abdel Basset Ali Al-Megrahi of planting a bomb in a cassette player in the forward cargo hold of Pan Am Flight 103.
A new multimedia timeline created for the Pan Am 103 Lockerbie Air Disaster Archives walks both novices and experts through the detailed developments that began in December of 1988. 270 lives lost. Countless lives changed.
The attack happened just as students were heading home for the holidays. Either by plane from the study abroad program in London or by car from their dormitories on the Syracuse University campus. By the time the semester resumed in January Chancellor Eggers was already prepared to announce there would be 35 Syracuse University Remembrance Scholars from that point forward.
To the credit of all involved in the university campus, those scholarships continue today by naming some of the best and brightest the university has to offer. They are the same type of high quality students and people that were lost in the Scottish evening 25 years before.
During this week you may wish to remember the Pan Am 103 victims. You may want to participate in on campus events which are held in October while the campus is still full and vital.
On the 10th anniversary of the attack I had the privilage of traveling to Lockerbie to document the tragedy and assess how the community had progressed since that day. I recall speaking with one local leader named Marjory McQueen about how she would like to see the anniversary remembered in 25 years. She said she hoped by then the media would no longer wish to do interviews, but the family and friends connected to Syracuse and the disaster would always be welcome.
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