AT 11.30am today a rose-laying ceremony will be held at Dryfesdale Ceremony in Lockerbie to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the bombing of Pan Am flight 103. Among those attending will be Hannah Starorypinski, a 22-year-old student at Syracuse University, representing the 35 Syracuse students who lost their lives in the tragedy.

Hannah, a Political Science major at Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, is also one of the university’s 35 Remembrance Scholars for 2023-24. The annual scholarships are a tribute to the 35 who died in December 1988.

Hannah, who is from Emmaus, Pennsylvania, visited Lockerbie last year while studying in London.

In an email to The Herald yesterday she recalled: “We arrived on Friday and left on Sunday, and truly immersed ourselves in the town. We were able to visit Lockerbie Academy and meet schoolchildren and teachers, which allowed us to see a part of the town that had an incredible connection with Syracuse, which was quite special.

“Our tour guide was a first responder when the bombing occurred, and he had incredible insight into the event.

“We were taken on a tour of several of the crash sites, including the field beyond Tundergarth Church, Sherwood Crescent, and Rosebank Crescent. We also visited cemeteries and other various sites of remembrance.

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“Our guide explained the background of the attack, as well as his own traumatic experience as a first responder and how the town was burdened with incredible grief and sorrow, but also intense responsibility to work with the police and put on a brave face for the wave of media.

“The last event of the weekend, and perhaps the most special, was our community dinner. All the Syracuse students that went on the trip were invited to a dinner with many of the residents of Lockerbie, most of whom were living in Lockerbie when the bombing occurred and helped in some way with the aftermath.

“It was a really beautiful display of the relationship between Syracuse and Lockerbie, and was a showcase of the friendships that continue to be created out of something devastating”.

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Like many who have visited the town, Hannah was struck by the residents’ strength and resilience.

“I have truly never felt more welcomed in an unfamiliar place than I did in Lockerbie, which I think speaks volumes about the character of the people”, she said.

“Despite the traumatic events that everyone endured in 1988 and beyond, everyone I encountered was eager and willing to talk about their experiences and share their story with others.

“Our guide mentioned that this willingness did not happen overnight, and that many residents held onto their grief privately for decades. I have no doubt that there are many that still have never talked about what happened to them and the horrors they experienced living in Lockerbie at the time of the bombing.

“Overall, I was amazed by the grace in which the town of Lockerbie handled such a tragic and traumatic event. Thirty-five years later, they continue to welcome strangers, work with police, and engage with the press”.

Hannah, who is “honoured, grateful and humbled” to be able to represent Syracuse today, expects to lay a wreath and read a poem at one of the ceremonies that will be staged.

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“My being there is a coincidence, as I am in London visiting family and the dates happened to overlap. I am excited to return to Lockerbie to spend time with the people I met last year and take part in such a special event. Especially now that I have experience as a remembrance scholar, it feels even more meaningful to return”.

Hannah, who is also a member of Syracuse’s Reneé Crown Honors Program, chose to become a Political Science major because of her “incredible passion” for human rights and the history professors she had in secondary school.

Syracuse, she adds, has fostered an environment and curriculum that has expanded her knowledge of both the American political system and international politics, “which was very useful when learning about the complex dynamics of Pan Am 103”.

She is currently pursuing a thesis/distinction in political science.