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Remembrance Begins With 35 Empty Chairs Display
Syracuse University’s 2020-21 Remembrance and Lockerbie Scholars are currently hosting the first Remembrance activity of this academic year.
Thirty-five empty chairs have been placed in the area stretching from the Place of Remembrance to the Hall of Languages. The seats are arranged in the formation of the seats on Pan Am Flight 103 that the 35 Syracuse University students they represent were sitting in for 38 minutes, up until the exact time the Pan Am 103 bombing occurred on Dec. 21, 1988, over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Several of the 2020-21 scholars sat in the chairs for 38 minutes on Tuesday, adhering to social distancing guidelines.
“The 35 chairs serve as physical reminders of the people we lost on Pan Am 103. On some of the chairs, you may see messages written by previous scholars noting ways in which they have honored the person the chair represents,” says Remembrance Scholar Miranda Nemeth, a senior psychology major in the College of Arts and Sciences and international relations and citizenship and civic engagement major in the Maxwell School. “By displaying them in this way, the chairs remind us not only to look back on the lives we lost that day but also to act forward in carrying on their legacies.”
This year marks the 32nd anniversary of the bombing. In previous fall semesters, the scholars have remembered those lost on Pan Am Flight 103 with events and activities held during a single week, Remembrance Week. These activities honor the 270 people, including 35 students studying abroad through Syracuse University, who lost their lives in the tragedy and further educate the campus community about terrorism.
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the need to limit in-person gatherings, Remembrance will look different during 2020-21 academic year. The annual Rose-Laying ceremony and Remembrance Convocation have been postponed. It is the scholars’ hope and intention to hold these two events during the Spring 2021 semester, as health and safety circumstances allow.
“This year’s Remembrance and Lockerbie Scholars have been faced with the challenge of honoring the 270 victims of Pan Am Flight 103 while continuing to cope with the many ways in which the pandemic has changed our day-to-day lives,” says Vanessa St. Oegger-Menn, the University’s Pan Am 103 archivist, assistant University archivist and Remembrance advisor. “Although it’s not possible for us all to be together in person this semester or to welcome the victims’ and scholars’ families to campus for Remembrance Week ceremonies as we have in Octobers past, this year’s cohort has truly risen to the occasion by imagining new ways to bring the community together in the spirit of remembrance. My colleagues and I could not be more proud of how they’ve adapted to these changes.”
The scholars began meeting remotely in late August to plan virtual events and programs that will occur each month throughout the 2020-21 academic year. Additionally, the scholars will hold a virtual Orange Central panel discussion on Oct. 29 and collaborate with Hendricks Chapel and the Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, Inc. family group for virtual annual memorial services on Dec. 21.
Information on Remembrance events and activities will be posted on the Events page of the Remembrance website as details become available. Those who require accommodations to fully participate in Remembrance events should contact Kelly Rodoski at firstname.lastname@example.org.