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.
article first appeared in December, 2002 and was most recently updated in
DECEMBER 21, 1988
| 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,
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
Lockerbies 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.