At 1:30 p.m. today, the first official ceremonies to remember the victims of the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing will kick off.
When the clock strikes 2:03 p.m., it will have been exactly 25 years since a bomb exploded on the plane, causing the deathes of 259 men, women and children on the flight and 11 residents on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland.
Most of the dead were Americans, including 35 students who had been studying abroad through Syracuse University. A few people with ties to the Capital Region were on that flight, including Lynne Hartunian, 21, of Niskayuna; Melina Hudson, 16, of Albany; twin brothers Eric and Jason Coker, 20, of Greenville, whose mother lived in Washington County; U.S. Air Force Sgt. Edgar Eggleston III, 24, of Queensbury; and Christopher Jones, of Claverack.
Five services will take place in the U.S. and abroad today to remember these victims of terror. The first ceremony will occur at 1:30 p.m. at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, where a cairn of red sandstone from Scotland features one brick for every life lost on Dec. 21, 1988.
At 2:03 p.m., a service “of hope and remembrance” will be held at Syracuse University’s Hendricks Chapel, followed by a procession to the school’s Wall of Remembrance. SU preserves the victims’ memories year-round with archives, a weeklong event each fall and a service each Dec. 21. The university’s Lubin House in Manhattan will also host a service at 2:03 p.m.
England and Scotland will each host their own services as well. Lockerbie will host two events, including a 2 p.m. ceremony at the Dryfesdale Cemetery and a 6:30 p.m. service at the Dryfesdale Church. A service will also be held at 6:45 p.m. at Westminster Abbey in London. The Lockerbie bombing killed 43 United Kingdom residents, making it their deadliest aviation attack to this day.
One of the victims, Lynne Hartunian, was on her way home to Niskayuna when an explosive planted by Libyan terrorists in a cassette recorder detonated and ripped a basketball-sized hole in the plane’s fuselage.
She was a senior at SUNY Oswego and had just spent a semester abroad in London. Her program finished Nov. 28, but she went on to travel with another Oswego student — Colleen Brunner — for three additional weeks. They visited Spain, the south of France, Italy, Austria, Germany and Switzerland, snapping pictures along the way. Some of these were later developed from rolls of film found in Hartunian’s recovered luggage.
Oswego’s Class of 1989 will honor them both today with a memorial plaque placed at the main entrance to the campus. The class will also host a special event to pay tribute to their memory during its 2014 reunion in June.
Hartunian’s family could not be reached Friday. On the 10-year anniversary of the bombing, her mother told The Daily Gazette that, in a way, her daughter is still alive.
“We talk about her a lot,” Joanne Hartunian said in 1998. “We have grandchildren who didn’t know her, and we talk to them about her. In that respect, she stays alive.”