Live at 6 | New Ambassador Position For Pan Am Terror Attack Rememberance
By Anna Azallion SYRACUSE, N.Y. (CitrusTV News) – Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud recently appointed Newhouse Professor Lawrence Mason as the first Remembrance and Lockerbie Ambassador.
Professor Mason was a Professor at Newhouse 29 years ago when Pan Am flight 103 was bombed in what officials determined to be a terrorist attack. Everyone on the plane, including 35 Syracuse University students and eleven residents of Lockerbie Scotland, were killed.
In the years immediately following the bombing, Syracuse University created the Remembrance and Lockerbie Scholar programs. Each year, 35 SU seniors are selected to represent the 35 students lost in the crash. Two recent graduates of Lockerbie Academy are selected to spend their first year of college at SU.
It’s no surprise that Mason received this position, according to current Lockerbie Scholar Andrew Dorrance.
“He was doing all of this stuff behind the scenes,” said Dorrance. “Not a lot of people knew what he was doing, including the work he has done over the years with the Remembrance Scholars, the Lockerbie Scholars, visiting Lockerbie, and the book he’s published.”
The book Dorrance referred to is a book Mason published, Looking for Lockerbie, with the help of his students and another Syracuse professor.
In his new position, Mason hopes to achieve a number of goals including telling the untold stories of Lockerbie. He talked about ramping up Remembrance Week in the fall as well as the anniversary of the bombing in December, making the time Lockerbie Scholars spend at Syracuse University more valuable, and getting faculty more involved.
Mason also said he wants to take the experiences he has had in Lockerbie with the Chancellor and exchange them out to a broader population. Some of those stories have never been told since the event. CitrusTV News was able to hear a couple of the stories he is interested in.
After the crash, a group of women who came to be known as the Lockerbie Washer Women gathered up the belongings of the passengers on Pan Am 103 and washed their clothing. They folded the clothes, pressed them, and packed them up to return to the victims’ families with a sprig of Heather, a symbol of luck in Scotland. These women became famous, but Mason has never heard them interviewed.
A forensic investigation took place after the crash. Almost every piece of the plane was gathered up and reassembled in an airplane hangar. The investigation was conducted to find where the explosion came from. After the investigation concluded, the plane ended up in a field in Lincoln, England, surrounded by a high fence and no sign.
Lockerbie, Scotland was not a very wealthy town at the time of the crash. Mark Knopfler, the guitarist for the British rock band, Dire Straits, was from Newcastle, England — not far from Lockerbie. He did a benefit concert in Lockerbie to raise money for the town. Mason has heard this story, but not in its entirety. He wants to talk to Knopfler to find out his motivation for the event and what the experience was like.
“I’m very aware as a storyteller myself that some of the stories about Pan Am and the disaster that I’ve heard are fading away,” said Mason.
To tell these stories, Mason has pitched an idea to develop a non-credit class about Pan Am 103. It would be tuition free and open to all students, faculty, and staff.
Currently, Mason is creating a list of stories like the ones above that he would like to tell. He plans to travel and conduct interviews to find out more and record them for the future.