Remembrance Week 2019
Remembrance Week 2019
As Syracuse Remembrance Scholars took their seats in Hendricks Chapel, a silence set in throughout the vast hall. Surrounded by their families and speakers, including Chancellor Kent Syverud and community members, the Remembrance Scholars and all in attendance at the Convocation were asked to take a moment to remember those who lost their lives in Pan Am Flight 103 on December 21. 1988.
After speeches from Linda Rougeau Euto, a member of the Remembrance Scholar Selection Committee, and Hendricks Chapel Dean Biran Konkol, professor Corri Zoli took the podium. Zoli, a student at SU in 1988, told the packed audience about the experience of being on campus when the news about the terrorist attack on the flight made its way to Syracuse.
In Syverud’s speech to the crowd, he explained the importance of Remembrance Week and the lessons he has taken from the tragedy.
“We can turn our eyes away, from what in our human weakness cannot bear to look upon,” Syverud said. “Or, we can learn from our remembrance scholars and Lockerbie scholars and alumni, who have now for more than 30 years unflinchingly faced terror and responded by furthering the good and the decent and the hopeful in each of us.” SU’s two Scottish Lockerbie Scholars, Brodi Chambers and Rowan Chisholm, and the 35 Remembrance.
Scholars were honored with commemorative pins during the ceremony. One of Syracuse’s Remembrance Scholars, Allison Westbook, delivered an emotional speech about the impact being a Scholar has had on her personally.“ The heart and the fist are the same size,” Westbrook said in the penultimate line of her speech. “But one of them is much more powerful than the other. I’ll let you decide which one it is.”
The annual Celebration of Life took place at Slocum Hall this week to honor the victims of the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing.
Remembrance Scholars performed songs, poetry and dances to pay tribute to those who lost their lives. Students, faculty and community members gathered to remember the lives that were left behind rather than the tragedy attached to their names.
Remembrance Scholar Adam Bayer hosted the event using his witty humor to keep the mood positive throughout the night. He wanted to focus on looking back and acting forward.
“To be a remembrance scholar, for me, means having the opportunity to use the Remembrance resources…which means educating the study body as well as talking about the types of terrorism we don’t normally think about when we think about acts of violence,” Bayer said.
The tone of the event was celebratory rather than somber. Otto’s Empire Belly Dance Troupe, Black Reign Step team and Creations Dance Company shared uplifting dance numbers. Most of the work performed was original, but some students chose to share creative pieces produced by SU students killed in the bombing.
Allie Westbrook, a current Remembrance Scholar, said the Celebration of Life ceremony was a time to remember the good in those who were lost.
“The point of remembrance is to not hold a funeral every year for these people but to actually celebrate and remember their lives as they were,” she said. “If you reduce people to names and numbers and the way that they died you’re doing them a huge injustice and disservice.”
Panelists for the Remembrance Week All-American Terrorism panel took the HBC Gifford Auditorium stage Wednesday night. Among the panelists were a local pastor, The Rev. Bruce W. Burns Sr., Newhouse School of Public Communications Professor J. Elliott Lewis, Executive Director of Syracuse Hillel Jillian Juni, and former President of the Islamic Society of Central New York Mohamed Khater.
The panelists began the discussion by attempting to define the word “terrorism.” The definitions varied from textbook definitions to military-experience based definitions.
They cited examples of terrorism which prompted a discussion of what groups are being targeted and what groups are committing the terroristic acts. The panel then dove into a deep discussion on diversity and fighting discrimination.
Many students voiced concerns about how the University promotes diversity and punishes those who discriminate. The panelists agreed that generalizing or stereotyping is a problem here on campus. They suggested having people introduce themselves to someone from a different background and attempt to learn about them.
The student comments and questions often prompted anecdotes from the panelists including one from Burns Sr. about how he was discriminated against on his college wrestling team. It was apparent that many of these stories resonated with the students, and a few stayed afterwards to discuss the panel.
The Quad felt colder than a normal October afternoon during the “Sitting in Solidarity” Remembrance Week event. Seats were arranged on the grass in front of Hendricks Chapel in the arrangement of the Pan Am flight 103 cabin. Each of the 35 chairs had a seat number of a Syracuse student who was killed in the 1998 tragedy, and in each chair sat the Remembrance Scholar who represents them.
“It was powerful”, said scholar Joann Li after the event. “We never put ourselves in the situation of the victims physically.”
The victim she represents, Gary Colasanti, sat next to his friends on the flight. She talked with the scholars sitting next to her about their friendship.
“The three best friends died together on the plane,” Li said. “We talked about what it must have been like when the plane was going down for them to have each other.
“It is a very comforting thought that he didn’t die alone.”
The event began as an interactive exhibit where anyone could approach the scholars and ask about the students they are representing. Each scholar shared stories of how their student impacted the community.
Michael DiNardo sat in seat 49C representing Fredrick “Sandy” Phillips. Phillips was SU Student Association vice president and a Whitman School of Management student. DiNardo, who also a Whitman student, said he feels honored to be representing someone who was so active on campus.
“He was definitely really loved by the student body,” DiNardo said. “He meant a lot to this campus, which means a lot to me in terms of being able to represent him.”
Broadcast and digital journalism senior Sabrina Maggiore shared the story of Karen Lee Hunt, a fellow journalism student among those lost on Pan Am flight 103.
Maggiore said Hunt is remembered as an outgoing, driven young woman. She lived in Day Hall, and when her floor did “floor awards” and she didn’t win “most likely to be successful,” she told her peers that she would go out and prove them wrong.
Because Hunt’s life was cut short, Maggiore said she feels honored to represent her. “I can really relate to her,” she said.
The scholars held a moment of silence towards the end of the gathering. When the 35 minutes were up, the visibly emotional students stood and placed glowing candles on their seats.
Syracuse University hosted a panel called “Terror in the Digital Age” Monday as part of Remembrance Week, which honors the lives of the 35 SU students lost on Pan Am Flight 103. Remembrance Week is a time to educate the campus about terrorism through daily events like this panel.
By bringing the campus and community together, Remembrance Scholars aim to instill in everyone their motto: “Look Back, Act Forward.” The discussion featured SU Professors Jennifer Stromer-Galley and Sean O’Keefe and was moderated by Remembrance Scholars Hassina Adams and Adam Bayer. O’Keefe, a Maxwell School professor, specializes in public management, national security policy, public finance and more. Stromer-Galley is a School of Information Studies professor who teaches courses focused on social media in political, organizational and research contexts.
The panel analyzed how terrorism continues to impact our country years after the 1988 tragedy. They discussed cyber terrorism and the ways in which the war on terror has changed over the years. Panelists said cyber warfare is a faceless and nameless act of terrorism and spoke about how recently enacted policies have allowed for more intense government observation of Americans.
Stromer-Galley said these policies have caused debate over how much the government should monitor citizens. She and O’Keefe also analyzed how “deepfake” content published on social networks can deceive users, and how Facebook ads can influence their political standings.
Remembrance Week will continue through Saturday.
Syracuse community members were invited to tie ribbons to trees in the orange grove Monday morning in honor of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing. Among the 270 victims, 35 were Syracuse University students.
Remembrance scholars had blue ribbons to represent the students, white to represent the other passengers on the flight, and gray to represent the Lockerbie residents on the ground who passed away.
Adam Bayer, Bethany Murphy, Julia Gregoire, and Rachel Lange stood at the grove handing out ribbons to any students interested in tying one up in memory of the victims. This year, Bayer is representing Steven Burrel, Murphy is representing Alexander Lowenstein, Gregoire is representing Anne Otenasek, and Lange is representing John Flynn.
“We were chosen to represent our victims, but this is on everyone here at Syracuse,” Murphy said. “We all need to look back and act forward.”
Monday morning’s ribbon tribute was a way for all students to pay their respects to victims of the attack. “This is just a great way to draw people in,” Bayer said. “People see us on the quad and get to decide: do you want to be involved in this?”
The trees covered in white, blue, and gray ribbons serve as a stark visual representation of the lives that were lost in 1988. “The ribbons, the chairs on the quad, it shows this is something,” Bayer said.
For Lange, Remembrance Week is close to her family because her mother was a student at Syracuse University when the bombing occurred and was friends with many of the students on the flight.
Gregoire said it’s important to have conversations about terrorism on campus and to remember the lives that were lost.
“Although this happened 31 years ago, these acts of terror are still happening in our world,” she said.
Remembrance week at Syracuse University and the 31st anniversary of the Pan Am 103 crash started off with a Hendricks Chapel event, “Music and message” on Sunday.
The event began with a somber bell performance by around 10 students. Then, two Remembrance scholars Lauren Crimmins representing Miriam Wolfe and Tyler Youngman representing Jason Coker gave the first speeches. Youngman discussed his experience with the independent SU student newspaper, The Daily Orange, and how he is connected to Coker because they both worked there.
A solemn Jewish chant, “Shalom, My Friends,” was then performed by the Hendricks chapel choir and the bells players.
The next speeches were given my Molly Murphy, who represented Stephen Boland and Sarah Crawford, who represented Richard Monetti. Murphy said that attending an event in remembrance is choosing a “path of resilience.”
“We all have come to the ceremony because we are choosing a path beyond hatred and sorrow,” Murphy said.
In between the speeches, The Hendricks Chapel choir stood once more and performed a sober rendition of “This Little Light of Mine.”
Following this, Allison Westbrook, representing Nicholas Vrenios, questioned the best way to memorialize those that were lost in Pan Am flight 103.
“How can you act forward in a way that really matters? How can you make a difference?” Westbrook said.
Westbrook then sang “Crayola Skies,” a song she wrote to memorialize Remembrance Week when she was abroad In London.
A friend read in the place of Taylor Krzeminski, who represents Amy Shapiro. She spoke about the terrors of Native American genocide and “how narrow our definition of terror is.”
Hendricks Chapel singers stood up once more to sing a more upbeat song, “Sing Unto the Lord.”
The Syracuse community gathered around the Place of Remembrance Sunday night for a Candlelight Vigil in honor of the 35 Syracuse University students killed on Pan Am Flight 103. The event marked the beginning of this year’s Remembrance Week.
Each Remembrance scholar said a few words to honor the students. The half-circle lit up with candles as the flame passed from person to person.
It was Scott Casanova’s second year setting up the event as the Associate Director of Event and Technical Services. In these two years, he continues to appreciate the importance of such an event.
“It is an event I enjoy, even though it’s not a joyful reason to be here,” he said. Casanova is a Syracuse area native and remembers the fatal Pan Am Flight 103 as it happened.
“The fact that current students still take it seriously and they keep the emotional gravity to the scene means a lot to me,” Casanova said.
As the Candlelight Vigil came to a close, the people in attendance turned and embraced one another, keeping the memories of the SU students alive.
Deep in the bowels of Hendricks Chapel, dozens of students gathered in the Noble Room to commemorate and remember the lives lost from the Pan Am Flight 103, which carried 35 Syracuse University students on board. Amid plentiful helpings of rice, chicken and asparagus, students from the Look Back, Act Forward program donned remembrance pins dedicated to individual students who tragically lost their lives in the act of terrorism.
Television, radio and film senior Daniel Preciado, who is from Panama, took the time to reflect on his good fortune.
“When I think of Look Back, Act Forward, I think of LGBT activists who have died before my time and even though I never knew them they fought really, really hard for me to have rights nowadays,” Preciado said. “I feel like these people were there for me even though I never knew them.”
Each student in the program represented specific Syracuse University students who lost their lives in the crash. Preciado, who represented drama student Theodora Cohen, grew emotional when discussing her.
“I honestly feel like Theodora is a friend of mine, even though I never met her,” Preciado said. “Someone who was just like me who I think is so, so special and I just want all of my friends to know that. When I think of her, how amazing she was and all the things she wanted to do, that really stuck with me. She was such an amazing woman and she loved theatre just like me.”
Outside the Noble Room, in front of Hendricks Chapel stands a replica of the Pan Am seating arrangement, with each chair dedicated to a student who lost their life. The visual experience is striking to many people who walk by, including Whitman Associate Dean Alex McKelvie, who brought his young son Emmitt.
“It’s good for kids to know that not everything is nice in the world,” McKelvie said.