a head’s up. The omission of names in this article is quite intentional.
I don’t believe the convict or Libyan leader deserve the respect
of such considerations in this situation.
December of 1988, I was finishing up the first semester of my
junior year of college when news came of the Lockerbie crash of
Pan Am Flight 103. About three dozen of the passengers were students
from my school… Syracuse University… including one girl that I
knew from a school project she had worked on.
in August of 2009, Scotland has released the only person convicted
of a crime in this event. The supposed reason is compassionate
grounds… as he has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and is
expected to die within three months.
first I was going to let this event pass. For me, it was too disgusting
a situation to investigate, read about, and honestly, to emotionally
deal with once again… never mind bring to this web site… and let’s
be fair, it really seems almost too ridiculous to conceive. (The
only man convicted of killing hundreds of people released because
he’s ill? Sure sounds like there’s more to this story that we’ll
never hear about. Shake my head… deep breath… move on.)
something happened. Something that I think explains exactly why
we will never see the “world peace” so many ignorant and blind
people sing about. Sure, politics will forever play a reason in
peace being a myth. But in this case… the convict was welcomed
home as a hero. He was cheered by those gathered at his arrival
home. He was greeted by heads of state.
2003, the Libyan government acknowledged responsibility for the
attack… fifteen years after it occurred. They
sent a message to the United Nations about
it, and as might be expected… the reasons behind the admission
were vague and almost certainly nothing more than politically
upon seeing some of the news regarding his welcome home, I read
a few articles on the release of this convict. I read where Libyan
officials are praising Scotland for the demonstration
of compassion. And I am left to wonder about what I see as an
amazing set of opposing messages.
have all heard of cases where people have shown an extraordinary
capacity to offer forgiveness. For many, myself included almost
every time I have seen it or learned of it, it defies every sense
of our being to comprehend the ability to complete such an act.
didn’t happen here.
families of victims didn’t offer understanding. Nor did they offer
forgiveness (that I am aware of). And… while certainly not something
I could consider a requirement… I do not believe any of them were
approached to make a statement for considerations as this decision
one is talking about whether or not he has paid even a portion
of his debt.
wasn’t being denied health care in prison.
was still released.
here is where the opposing messages collided and brought me to
convict is being given a hero’s welcome in Libya. He is being
celebrated and honored… essentially there is no other description
to use except that he is being praised for his actions. The actions
of a plotting, cowardly murderer. Yes… yes… they celebrate that…
honor that… cherish that and welcome his release as a victory.
his release on compassionate grounds? The Libyan leader referred
to Scotland as facing “unacceptable and illogical pressures” while
considering the release. And then he went a step beyond that asinine
remark by concluding: “they took this sound, courageous and humane
do I refer to this leader as asinine?
people are claiming that the release of the convict was sensible,
compassionate and just. And, simply put, for those of us that
disagree, they would say it is beyond our capacity of forgiveness
these very same people show no class, no respect, and no compassion
when celebrating the convict’s return as a welcoming of a hero.
Ultimately, they demonstrate nothing worthy of forgiveness.
screaming for compassion are, themselves, incapable of compassion.
back and read the report from The New York Times on the
2003 acceptance of responsibility. I believe we’d be ignorant
to assume that this release is truly for compassionate grounds,
and that there isn’t politics taking place in a different room.
The very BBC article I linked to here suggests oil as one such
the risk of being naïve and pretending no backroom handshakes
were exchanged after a deal, perhaps… in that place Jack Nicholson
pointed to during a few lines from A Few Good Men: “You
have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago’s death,
while tragic, probably saved lives and that my existence, while
grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives”… perhaps Libya
is celebrating a victory in public, while privately they lost
something we will never know of or understand. Perhaps we don’t
know what these so-called leaders know. Perhaps.
upon witnessing the welcome home of a coward… in Scotland, perhaps
publicly and globally they are just beginning to grasp the mistake
~ ~ ~
years ago, I wrote a poem titled “Pan Am 103.” I had it published
in a poetry anthology, and, since the poets retained all rights
to their works, I eventually republished it here on the original
version of the web site. I thought it would be a fitting time
to visit the Backpack and pull out an excerpt from that original
December 21, 1988, a Boeing 747 traveling to New York crashed
in Lockerbie, Scotland. This was Pan Am flight 103.
the time I was attending Syracuse University. As the news continued
to come in about this event, a list of students from SU was released.
I knew one of the people on the plane.
Chapin sang about a person’s Story of a Life. Numerous others
have expressed similar thoughts… I once wrote in an old poem called
Forever and Always that said “…we are all characters and critics
of the same play…”. So what to say about this person I knew on
flight 103… would we have met again on campus had the plane not
been attacked? I don’t know. Perhaps just a passing mention in
my story never to be visited again, perhaps a full chapter, and
perhaps more. Or, for those believing in fate and destiny and
purpose, exactly what it was… an event with a small tie to my
I do know is that I wrote a poem at the time, for whatever emotions
and thoughts I had. I don't think I could tell you today what
I was truly feeling or thinking.
night I heard a star fell from the sky –
star feel from above
I’m left alone, simply wondering why
star fell carrying someone I love
I’ll never fill this emptiness in my heart
I find my mind filled with memories of you
at the very least that’s a start –
night I heard a star fell from the sky
I’m left alone simply wondering why
star fell from above –
star carrying someone I love.