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Travel is people. You may go abroad to see the famous sites, but what you remember best are the people you meet an the stories you hear. Among them, sometimes unexpectedly, are a few memorable experiences that will make your travels unique, special, and meaningful. "People" is devoted to some of the people and experiences you may encounter during your Home At First travels, including this tale of sudden shock and lingering sadness in Scotland.

This article first appeared in December, 2002 and was most recently updated in 2014.

 

REMEMBERING

LOCKERBIE

SCOTLAND


 

DECEMBER 21, 1988

Photo  Home At First.

  

 

          Christmas, 2002 — like other wartime Christmases of the American past — brings a mixture of emotions. The holiday season brings us considerable joy, as it always does, but this year the joy has been muted somewhat by the political realities of the times, as sadness, fear, and anger also color our spirits.
          Our war against terror may have become a national commitment following September 11, 2001, but the attacks against the World Trade Center were certainly not the first acts of the terror war committed against the United States and its allies. One of the first acts, and among the most shocking of the terror war — the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland — occurred fourteen years ago this week, December 21, 1988. The loss of life included 259 crew and passengers on the jumbo jet plus 11 people killed by the wreckage falling into the sleeping town of Lockerbie.
          In the 14 years since the disaster a long and controversial trial has resulted in convictions, controversy, and little in the way of closure for many of the victims’ families. Some of these actively suspect a cover-up of the real events behind the bombing. They continue to pressure various governments and organizations to pursue new leads or admit what they may know but are keeping secret about the case.
          If the public outcry and the pain and rage of the victims’ families continues, there is one place at least where a peaceful final rest has been achieved, the Garden of Remembrance at the Lockerbie Cemetery. During a recent trip to Britain, while traveling between Scotland and the English Lake District, we visited Lockerbie, and paused at the Garden of Remembrance. While we do not wish the place to become a tourist attraction, we can imagine many Americans making pilgrimages there like they do to the battlegrounds and cemeteries at Normandy, Gettysburg, Arlington, and Valley Forge.

Garden of Remembrance, Lockerbie, Scotland. Photo  Home At First.
Garden of Remembrance,
Lockerbie, Scotland.

          The Garden of Remembrance overlooks the gently rolling hills and valleys of Dumfries and Galloway from its perch on the edge of town away from buildings and traffic. No gaudy memorials or militaristic or patriotic monuments are found here. There are no flags. The victims like those in the World Trade Center were mostly American. But among them were citizens of 20 other nations, making the bombing of Pan Am 103 an attack against a target much larger than America alone. Although few victims are buried in the Lockerbie

cemetery, the names of all are victims are listed here, and many are memorialized with small, individual markers erected by family or friends.
          For the first several years following the bombing of Pan Am 103, the citizens of Lockerbie more or less openly discouraged "tourist" visitors to the cemetery. Since September 11, 2001, however, it is difficult to view the Lockerbie air disaster as an isolated incident perpetrated by individuals or a small band of extremists, but rather as one link in a long chain of terrorist attacks in an extended war.
          That the markers in Lockerbie’s Garden of Remembrance are decorated with flowers and personal objects like teddy bears instead of flags seems entirely appropriate. And for those of us whose lives have been touched by the war on terror, it seems equally appropriate to visit Lockerbie and understand its place in the context of the times.

 

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