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SU Student Association, Remembrance Scholars plan Tuesday candlelight vigil to remember victims of Pan Am 103
Syracuse University’s Student Association and Remembrance Scholars will hold a candlelight vigil on Tuesday, Sept. 22, on 8 p.m. on the steps of Hendricks Chapel to honor and remember the 35 Syracuse University students who died aboard Pan Am Flight 103.
On Dec. 21, 1988, Flight 103 exploded in the skies over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 259 people on the plane and 11 on the ground in Lockerbie. Among those killed on the plane were 35 students returning from a semester of study abroad in London and Florence through SU’s Division of International Programs Abroad (now known as SU Abroad).
Only one person, Libyan Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, was convicted of the bombing. He was sentenced to life in a Scottish prison, but Al-Megrahi, who reportedly has terminal prostate cancer, was released in August and returned to Libya on compassionate grounds.
The SU vigil comes on the eve of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi’s visit to the United States to attend a United Nations gathering in New York City.
“The day Muammar al-Gaddafi sets foot in the U.S. will be a day of anger and protest,” says Student Association member and SU junior Jon Barnhart. “Some students felt it would be better to have a night devoted simply to remembering those that SU lost in the attack. This serves as a nonpolitical way to demonstrate how the memory of the events of Dec. 21, 1988 still live on both at the University and in the greater Syracuse community.”
“As Remembrance Scholars we were chosen to serve as ambassadors to the memories of the students lost on Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988,” says Remembrance Scholar Greg Sides. “What is interesting is that most of us were only a few months old when this tragedy occurred, and yet each year as the tragedy grows further into the past, we gather together and encourage the Syracuse University community to honor and remember the lives that were lost, and more importantly the lives that would have been. There is a challenge then, and that is allowing people to begin to remember a reality they never knew. As Remembrance Scholars we implore the Syracuse University community to attend this vigil and unite with us and the Student Association in learning and remembering.”
During Tuesday’s gathering, members of the 2009-10 Remembrance Scholars cohort will speak about the 35 students who were lost. Every year, each Remembrance Scholar researches one of the student victims and has a charge to educate the campus and greater community about that student.
Students will also speak during the vigil about ways to remember, discuss issues of terrorism and educate. Those attending will have the opportunity to offer their own reflections.
At the conclusion of the vigil, those gathered will process to the Wall of Remembrance, located in front of the Hall of Languages, where the extinguished candles will be placed.
In the event of rain, the vigil will be held inside the chapel.
For more information about the vigil, contact Jon Barnhart at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the special page created for the event on Facebook (Facebook account required).