Central New York, Community, History, Syracuse

New Addition to Syracuse University Remembrance Week

This Week marks Remembrance Week 2017 in Syracuse, which recognizes the tragedy of Pan Am Flight 103 -- 29 years ago in December. Many Syracuse students were not even alive yet, but as NCC's Nick Dugan explains, this year's Remembrance Scholars are doing their part to educate their peers.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — For senior Maddie Buckley, becoming a Remembrance Scholar at Syracuse University is something on which she had her sights set for quite some time.

“My sophomore year, I knew some of the scholars,” she recalled. “My junior year I really knew some of the scholars, so I progressively learned more about it and knew pretty much since freshman year that it was something I wanted to apply for.”

Each year, 35 students are selected to represent an individual who lost his or her life in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 on December 21, 1988. Along with many of her fellow scholars, she was aware of the tragedy and the week of events that commemorate these students early in her academic career.

However, this is not the case for some. The terrorist attack that devastated the university, and the community at large happened before many of Syracuse’s current students were even born. But for Remembrance Scholar Bronte Schmit, the more that time has passed, the more meaningful the scholar’s responsibility has become.

“I think that remembrance is such a vital part of our community,” she said. ” Not just at Syracuse, but at Lockerbie as well. And maintaining that connection and understanding that this is still something that impacts hundreds of people every single day, and it’s not something to be lost. And, it will continue to be something impacts people to this day.”

This year, the scholars developed the idea to build a pop-up museum right outside of the Schine Student Center, in addition to the installation of empty and seat-marked chairs on the quad and numerous panels that have occurred in the past.

The exhibit includes a timeline of events leading up to, including, and following the bombing. It also lists each of the 270 people that were killed in the crash, including the 35 university-affiliated students, as well as some photographs of them abroad in London.

“I think it adds that human aspect that we have in some of the portraits, that we have hanging around campus,” Schmit said about the newest addition to Remembrance week. “But, it really kind of creates a deeper dive into the experiences of these students and of these families, in a way that you can’t necessarily get at a first glance.”

For Buckley, the photos create a real connection between current students, and those taken from their friends and families all too soon.

“I mean, because if you look at those photos, they’re not very different from the ones that people take and post on Facebook now,” she said. “I think it really helps students identify with them, even though it was almost 30 years ago.”

Remembrance Scholar Marisa Torelli-Pedevska agreed.

“I think it’s really easy for these 35 students to become 35 students — to become a number,” she said. “But, who were these 35 students? There were just like you and me and Bronte — they were like all of us. They were us in a different time.”

But even beyond these students, this campus, the tragedy of that day has woven itself into the very fabric of not only the local community, but the nation.

“The parents from Pan Am 103 had a huge impact on how we fly today and security measures,” Buckley said. “It’s touched this campus in so many ways and I think it’s important for students to know the history, because if they identify as part of this campus, it’s a huge part of our identity.”

 This year’s Remembrance Week will conclude, as it always does, with a rose laying ceremony at 2:03 p.m. followed by the Remembrance Scholar Convocation in Hendricks Chapel.