Campus News

Remembrance Week commemorates losses from Pan Am 103

Remembrance Week tribute to Pan Am 103 tragedy

Remembrance Scholars organize events for the 35th anniversary of the airline bombing in Lockerbie, Scotland.

Syracuse remembrance scholars file toward the place of remembrance from the Hall of Languages for the rose laying ceremony in memoriam of the victims on Pan Am Flight 103 .
Finn Lincoln
Remembrance Scholars walk toward the Place of Remembrance near the Hall of Languages for Friday’s rose-laying ceremony.

Syracuse University students hosted Remembrance Week to memorialize the victims of the Pan Am 103 flight bombing with campus events held from October 15-21.

The attack on the Boeing 747 aircraft on Dec. 21, 1988, resulted in the loss of 270 individuals from 21 countries traveling from London Heathrow Airport to the John F. Kennedy International Airport. The weeklong tribute includes events organized by Remembrance and Lockerbie Scholars to educate and raise awareness about terrorism.

Thirty-five victims were Syracuse students returning from a study abroad semester in London, England and Florence, Italy. Pan Am 103 was the deadliest attack against American civilians prior to the September 11 attacks. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the bombing.

A rose and stone layed at the Rememberance Week Rose-Laying Ceremony on Friday, October, 20, to honor the 11 residents of Lockerbie, Scotland that were killed as a result of the bombing of Pan Am flight 103. (Photo by Danny Amron)
Roses, carnations and stones were presented Friday at the Place of Remembrance.

Rose-laying ceremony

On Friday afternoon about 100 people gathered at Syracuse University’s Place of Remembrance to mourn the loss of 35 members of the university community in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 on Dec. 21, 1988.

The ceremony was among the final events for SU’s 35th Remembrance Week, during which 35 seniors at SU aim to honor the lives of those lost by embodying the motto, “Look Back, Act Forward.”

As the chimes from Crouse College began to ring, the Remembrance Scholars stepped out of the Hall of Languages and proceeded toward the Place of Remembrance for the ceremony’s start.

Otto Sutton, a senior in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, then gave opening remarks before the scholars stepped up, one by one, to honor those they were remembering. Each scholar gave brief remarks describing the lives of the students they represented before placing a rose, and often an accompanying painted stone, along the Place of Remembrance.

2023 Remembrace Scholar Dominic Chippone speaks on the legacy of Frederick
2023 Remembrace Scholar Dominic Chippone speaks on the legacy of Frederick “Sandy” Philips at the rose-laying ceremony.

Once the scholars placed the roses and stones, bagpipes played as other members of the community, including Vice Chancellor and Provost Gretchen Ritter, had an opportunity to lay their own tributes, such as flowers, notes and wreaths, at the base of the wall as well.

– Danny Amron

Convocation closes with tributes

Following Friday’s rose-laying ceremony, campus and community members reconvened at Hendricks Chapel for a convocation to honor this year’s Remembrance Scholars as well as a pair of Lockerbie Scholars from Scotland who are attending SU this year.

Rev. Brian Konkol, dean of Hendricks Chapel, led the event's invocation.
The Rev. Brian Konkol, dean of Hendricks Chapel, led the invocation during Friday’s convocation.

Along with musical performances from the Hendricks Chapel Choir and the Syracuse University Wind Ensemble, Hannah Starorypinski spoke on behalf of the scholars sharing the 2023-24 cohort’s “message.” Former Scotland Secretary of State David Mundell and SU Provost Gretchen Ritter also spoke.

The Hendricks Chapel Choir, directed by Jose
The Hendricks Chapel Choir, directed by Jose “Peppie” Calvar, performed “Such Splendor” by Cecelia McDowall.

Above the crowd were drawings of the SU students who died on Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988.

In previous years, the Remembrance Scholars would each represent the students who died on the flight. This year, 33 represented students while one of the scholars represented the flight’s crew and another represented the rest of the passengers.

– Kyle Chouinard

Convocation programs lay on seats before the event starts.
Convocation programs lay on seats before Friday’s convocation.

Scholars in solidarity on the Quad

Alternative Text
Abby Presson
Remembrance Scholar Madison Wallace at the Sitting in Solidarity event.

Syracuse University hosted Sitting in Solidarity on Wednesday morning as one of several events in SU’s Remembrance Week programming.

For 35 minutes, the 2023-24 Remembrance Scholars sat on Shaw Quadrangle in empty seats with designated airline seat numbers, each one representing a victim of the bombing.

In the chilled morning air, after the Crouse College bells chimed, the Remembrance Scholars sat silently while students and faculty passed by on their way to classes and meetings. Several students and faculty members stopped to acknowledge those present and lost. A sign listed the names and seat numbers of students who were on flight 103.

Alternative Text
Abby Presson
Remembrance Scholars at the Sitting in Solidarity event on Wednesday morning.

The Remembrance Scholars are selected each year from members of the senior class who then work to educate the community and coordinate the year’s remembrance events. In a change to the program, this year’s scholars were randomly paired with the victim they were representing.

Abby Presson

“Seat 20D” film screening and Q&A

Remembrance and Lockerbie Scholars hosted a screening of the documentary Seat 20D by Suse Lowenstein at Gifford Auditorium in Crouse Hall on Wednesday night. The documentary tells the story of the memorial sculpture “Dark Elegy,” created by the mother of Pan Am Flight 103 victim Alexander Lowenstein.

The documentary explains the meaning behind Lowenstein’s garden sculpture and how it pays respects to each of the 35 victims of the bombing.

In 2021, Seat 20D won Best Documentary at The Jane Austen International Film Festival. The film details Lowenstein’s journey of growth following the murder of her son. To Lowenstein, the tragedy represents a symbol of hope.

Alternative Text
Noah Concordia
Jill Campbell answers questions from students at the showing of “Seat 20D” on Wednesday night.

Filmmaker Jill Campbell opened up for questions over Zoom. Campbell explained how the story struck close to home as she attended Ithaca College, not too far from Syracuse. She noted Lowenstein’s kindness and how important her contributions are to memorializing the victims.

Despite Campbell saying she did not want to overstep her boundaries, she found that Lowenstein was very adamant about shedding light on the tragedy. Campbell is an independent documentary director, producer and editor.

– Noah Concordia

Students gather for Celebration of Life

On Thursday, Remembrance Scholars hosted a Celebration of Life event for students to enjoy performances and other activities during Remembrance Week.

The event was described as “an evening of song, dance, spoken word and more to celebrate the lives of the victims of Pan Am Flight 103.”

Compared to the impactful events scheduled the day before, Thursday night brought more positivity. The scholars recognized the great achievements of the students who tragically died, as well as students currently enrolled.

Alternative Text
Jamie Korenblat
Students of Oy Capella perform at the Celebration of Life event on Thursday night.

Oy Capella, the Jewish co-ed a cappella group, started off the night with a performance with Emily Ref as the lead soloist. Students Sydney Pearson and Griffin O’Neill enjoyed Ref’s solo as they patiently waited for their turn to perform.

Pearson and O’Neill are in Groovestand, “Syracuse University’s premier SATB a cappella group.” Shortly after, Pearson sang “a song about peace” to tie the event together. All of the performers were met with loud and emotional cheers of approval from the audience.

– Jamie Korenblat