Monday, 2 November 2015

That tearful time

This week was Remembrance week and Friday marked our biggest even on the calendar for myself and my fellow scholars. I got up as normal, I went to my econ class as normal, yet what wasn't normal was the fact that I couldn't focus and take in what Professor Evensky was telling us about the Macro Economics system. (not that I understood much of it anyway). 

My mind was just elsewhere.

I came back to my dorm and started to get ready. I walked back and forth in my room reading the speech I had prepared for the ceremony. I felt confident. I ran through it all in my head, trying to take away the fact I got rather upset during the practice last week - today is a new day I kept telling myself.

12:45 arrived and we (the scholars) were meeting together at 1 inside Hall Of Languages where we would get our pictures taken and have our roses handed to us. I kept running through my speech in my head as we all congregated together. I knew this was going to be though, but just how tough? That I was unaware of. We all had fun taking pictures and chatting casually before all the seriousness began and people kept asking me if I was nervous and all I could say was “Im ready, I’m prepared in my head but when I get out there, anything can happen” and we would all just laugh off our nerves. 

Laying a rose for Andrew
2.03 arrived and we headed out in our separate paths down to the wall of remembrance where each of the 35 seniors laid their rose in memory of their student whom they were representing this year. I lay a rose in memory of Andrew McClune. A past Lockerbie Scholar who sadly passed away here in SU, 13 years ago. I introduced my rose laying by mentioning how “Andrew had dreams of joining the Royal Air Force and founded Syracuse University’s curling team. He was known for being highly ambitious and always on the move” before stating “I lay this rose of behalf of Andrew and act forward in his memory”. Myself and fellow Lockerbie Scholar Joanna Barrie were then introduced and invited to speak. For those of you who were not there, my speech went like this 

“I respectfully stand before you all, whilst we all take time to remember those affected and touched by the tragic event many years ago.

On December 21st 1988, Syracuse University lost 35 of its most outstanding students, my small hometown Lockerbie, in Scotland lost 11 residents and us as a community in the world lost 270 men, women and children on the Pan Am 103 flight. 

I am here today to act in their memory. To Look Back, Act Forward and to never forget. 

I wasn't alive when this tragedy happened and at the time of the disaster, my family was not living in Lockerbie, however,when you grow up in such a small, close knit town, you begin to feel like you were there that night and you share the heartache with those people who were there the night the plane landed in our small town and being able to come as far as we have today and have joined another community that is Syracuse, mourning the same tragedy 27 years on is simply surreal. I cannot thank any one person enough for this opportunity I have been given. It really is an honour and an absolute privilege.  

We are not only here today to celebrate the lives of the students we lost the night of the Lockerbie Air Disaster, but also fellow Lockerbie Scholar, Andrew McClune who sadly passed away during his  scholarship year here, 13 years ago. Andrew was a young curler just like myself and played for the Universities curling team. He is described by his friends back home “as a star, he was academic, sporty, fun and kind, everything that you would want a friend to be, it was him. He was without exaggeration the nicest, kindest man.” We cannot forget to act forward in his memory also. 

I now have a short poem written anonymously to share which I feel is significant for the reason we are gathered together today.
Fighting back the tears

“I thought of you with love today,
but thats nothing new.
I thought about you yesterday 
and days before that too.
I think of you in silence,
I often speak your name.
All I have are memories,
and your picture in a frame.
Your memory is my keepsake,
with which i’ll never part.
God has you in his keeping,
I have you in my heart”

Today, tomorrow and Forever, we must look, back, act forward. and never forget these outstanding people, whom we lost 27 years ago. ——

Thank you.

This truly was the hardest thing i’ve ever had to do. To look up half way through my speech and see people I didnt know, in floods of tears and smiling back at me, was one of the most moving and heartwarming yet heartbreaking things I've ever seen. 

The tears ran down my face as I finished of my speech and a little more when the bagpipes were played as people were invited up to the wall to lay their own flowers in memory of any of the victims. We all then left and went to Hendricks Chapel for the congregation where myself and Joanna were presented on stage with lovely Lockerbie buttons. 

The most amazing people I've ever met! 
It really has been an honour to be a part of, I feel so lucky and so humbled by everyones comments from not only that one day, but throughout the whole week. To know how grateful people are for myself and Joanna to be here, really is mesmerising. We are the ones who are eternally grateful. 


  1. What a gorgeous speech Ellen. A very well done to you! It's a hard thing to do. Enjoy your year in Syracuse. I have no doubt that you are most deserving of the opportunity that you have been given.
    Pan Am 103 never forgotten.
    Barbara Capper

    1. Barbara, Thankyou so much for your kind comment! :)
      Look Back, Act Forward - never forget!


  2. God love you Ellen. You do Lockerbie and the Lockerbie Academy proud, and now you made Syracuse University proud too.

  3. God love you Ellen. You do Lockerbie and the Lockerbie Academy proud, and now you made Syracuse University proud too.

  4. Wonderful, Ellen! I loved the look back act forward. It is importabt to look back and remember but it is vital to take that and act into a better future. You plainly did a marvellous job of that.

  5. Thankyou Tom! Can't believe I did this looking back now! Your comment means a lot, thankyou for taking the time to read my post

  6. Ellen - I'm sure all those who have found this post recently, from the link in my wee article on the Curling History blog about Andrew, have been both moved and impressed by your writing, as I was when I read it. Full marks to you. Bob.