Families of some of the 270 people who died in the bombing of an airliner over Scotland 25 years ago gathered Saturday for memorial services in the U.S. and Britain.
Bagpipes played and wreaths were laid in Lockerbie, the Scottish town the plane was flying over when the explosion happened, and services were being held later in the day at London’s Westminster Abbey. In the United States, hundreds gathered at a service at Virginia’s Arlington National Cemetery where U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was scheduled to speak.
Pan Am 103, which was bound for New York, exploded less than an hour after takeoff from London on Dec. 21, 1988. Many of the victims were American college students flying home for Christmas.
Whitney Davis lost her sister Shannon, a Syracuse University student at the time, and other friends in the explosion. She learned about the deaths after returning home from Syracuse, which she also attended.
“I was angry. I was in disbelief. Mom was in shock, my brother was not saying much, and I just was throwing snowballs at the sky and wondering how this could have happened,” said Davis, of Bend, Ore., who brought her daughter to Saturday’s memorial in Virginia.
In Scotland, officials including Scottish leader Alex Salmond and relatives of some of the victims gathered at Lockerbie’s Dryfesdale Cemetery on Saturday.
“In my heart, to me this is home and there was no other place I felt I should be on this very sad and special occasion,” said Jane Schultz, who lost her 20-year-old son, Thomas. “It’s nice and peaceful and it’s where Thomas was, so it’s like coming home.”
A service was also scheduled for Syracuse University in the U.S.
One man — former Libyan intelligence official Abdel Baset al-Megrahi — was convicted of the bombing. He was given a life sentence, but Scottish authorities released him on humanitarian grounds in 2009 when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He died in Tripoli last year.
Many questions remain unanswered about the attack, but the governments of Britain, the U.S. and Libya on Saturday issued a joint statement saying they will co-operate to reveal “the full facts” of the case.
“We are striving to further deepen our co-operation and welcome the visit by U.K. and U.S. investigators to Libya in the near future to discuss all aspects of that co-operation, including sharing of information and documents and access to witnesses,” the statement read.