Lockerbie rainbow December 1988 by Erik Sorensen
Pan Am employee Erik Sorensen, enroute to Lockerbie by bus for the memorial service in 1988, took this picture of the rainbow that appeared as they approached the town.


December 2023 marks three and a half decades since that terrible day at Lockerbie Scotland when so many innocent lives were cut short due to a wanton act of terror.
The past cannot be undone, but for years, since Pan Am's Flight 103 disaster at Lockerbie. there have been strong communities who have seen to it that the legacy of that day will not remain a matter of loss and sorrow only.


December 21, 1988: For a great many people, remembrance of that date retains the power to tear away any veneer of every-day life and uncover an open wound. That day 35 years ago ago, a bomb ripped open Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie Scotland, and took the lives of 270 innocent people: 259 on the plane and 11 on the ground. Few moments in modern history have had the power to wrench one back in time as the sight of that crushed white and blue fuselage. For Americans, it stands as powerfully distinct and terrible as those few frames from the Zapruder film from Dallas in 1963.

We don't forget. But despite that incomprehensible act of evil in what should have been a joyful holiday time, the strength of what's good in humanity continues to outweigh the legacy of terror that drove the perpetrators to do such a thing.

That strength is evident now, in places as disparate as Arlington Virginia, Dumfries Scotland, and Syracuse New York. It binds us through acts of remembrance, and creativity. The past can't be rewritten, but the future offers hope, and a way forward, perhaps towards a better world.


Arlington National Cemetery Memorial

 Pan Am Flight 103 Memorial Ceremony head of the Flight 103 Memorial Committee delivers speech 2014 f Arlington National Cemetery Pan Am Flight 103 Memorial Ceremony
Head of the Flight 103 Memorial Committee delivers speech 2014. (1)


FBI Remembering Victims of Flight 103 from the video repository




The Memorials at Lockerbie

Pan Am 1988 Memorial Window Chris Newman Am 1988 Memorial Window. (2)


The Pan Am 1988 Memorial Window

This 1991 window in the Low Chamber of Lockerbie Town Hall commemorates Pan Am Flight 103 which blew up over Lockerbie on 21st December 1988, killing 259 passengers and crew and 11 people on the ground. The flags showing the nationality of the victims.

Dryfesdale cemetery and garden of remembrance Lockerbie Lynne Kirton

Lockerbie Cemetery & Garden of Remembrance, Lockerbie. (3)


Dryfesdale Cemetery

The garden of remembrance is dedicated to all those who lost their lives in the downing of Pan Am flight 103 which crashed on Lockerbie on December 21st 1988. A beautiful and peaceful place.

Memorial at Dryfesdale Cemetery  StaraBlazkova (Wikipedia, 2007)Memorial at Dryfesdale Cemetery. (4)



The Memorial “Cycle to Syracuse”

A 30th anniversary event linked the United States, with the people of Lockerbie, Scotland. The project was called “Cycle to Syracuse.”  A group of Scottish first-responders, now retired, who were present and involved in those terrible days of 1988, decided to symbolically finish the journey home from Lockerbie on behalf of Syracuse University’s thirty-five students who were lost in the tragedy. They completed the trip and their unusual spirit and dedication has been captured in this video: 


Syracuse University - A Legacy of Remembrance & Hope

Lockerbie Memorial Syracuse University Flight 103 Memorial Kai Brinker

Pan Am Flight 103 Memorial Syracuse University. (5)


On that day in December 1988 thirty-five students from Syracuse University in New York were on Pan Am Flight 103. The entire university community was stunned and grief stricken by the loss of so many young people of course. But they were also motivated then, and have stayed motivated ever since, to frame the terrible history with meaning and hope along with the inevitable sadness.

Now, thirty years on, the Syracuse University community can look to a growing and tangible legacy that honors those lost and puts something back into the void left by their being taken. It’s a multi-faceted effort.

The Pan Am Flight 103 Archives

The Archives, housed at the University Library has been collecting information about the events and lives affected by the bombing of Flight 103. This online resource includes a compendium of stories and information about the terrorist bombing and later developments, including an interactive timeline and “On Eagles’ Wings,” a downloadable book with detailed biographies of those lost.

To access the Archives, go to  

"Look Back, Act Forward"

The Lockerbie Remembrance Scholars & Remembrance Weeks

The Lockerbie Scholars program has now sent forth over a thousand individuals who have been selected to carry on the program’s motto: “Look Back, Act Forward.”  The program, started in 1990, is described on its website this way:
"The Remembrance Scholars – 35 senior students at the University – and the Lockerbie Scholars – 2 students from Lockerbie, Scotland who study at Syracuse for one year – are one way that Syracuse University strives to fulfill our promise to remember all 270, especially the 35 students killed in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103...

There is now a network of Lockerbie and Remembrance Scholars… They have gone on to become global advocates, educators, activists, government officials, scientists, entrepreneurs and entertainers all while embodying the spirit of those lost on Pan Am 103. It is clear that from disaster sprung a beautiful relationship that has shaped a number of Scholars’ lives in many ways.”

Learn more about "Look Back, Act Forward"


Photo Sources:

(1) Arlington National Cemetery Pan Am Flight 103 Memorial Ceremony, Head of the Flight 103 Memorial Committee delivers speech in 2014, Wikimedia Commons.

(2) Pan Am 1988 Memorial Window by Chris Newman, Wikimedia Commons: 2008

(3) Lockerbie Cemetery & Garden of Remembrance, Lockerbie by Lynne Kirton, Wikimedia Commons.

(4) Memorial at Dryfesdale Cemetery 2007 by StaraBlazkova, Wikimedia Commons.

(5) Pan Am Flight 103 Memorial Syracuse University by Kai Brinker /Newkai, Wikimedia Commons.




Sights & Sounds