12-21-2008, 12:51 PM
Direct Action Resistance Fighter
Joined: Aug 2006
Lockerbie marks 20th anniversary
Quote:Events are taking place in Lockerbie to mark the 20th anniversary of the tragedy which killed 270 people.
Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up over the town on 21 December 1988, claiming the lives of everyone on the plane and 11 local residents on the ground.
A number of "low key" ceremonies are taking place in the town in accordance with the wishes of the community.
A tribute is also planned in the US at the Lockerbie memorial in the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC.
Special "places to remember" are being opened in Lockerbie, with a wreath-laying ceremony taking place at the Dryfesdale Ceremony.
In the evening there will be services at both the Tundergarth and Dryfesdale Church.
A little after 1900 GMT the exact anniversary of the atrocity will be remembered.
For many who lived through it, the memories remain fresh despite the time which has passed.
George Stobbs, Lockerbie's police inspector at the time, recalls the events of 20 years ago with great clarity.
"Nobody actually knew what had happened, we realised an aircraft had come down but I thought it was a military aircraft," he said.
"Once I got into Sherwood Crescent I could see flames along the roadside, the footpaths were burst and there were gas pipes fractured - there were dancing flames coming up from them.
"Hedges were on fire, drop pipes on the side of houses were on fire and they were in turn climbing up and setting fire to the roofs."
It was only later in the evening that the scale of the death toll at Lockerbie began to emerge.
"Someone put their head round the corner and said: 'There is a nose cone of a 747 lying at Tundergarth'," said Mr Stobbs.
"Up until then I was looking for possibly 20 people - I was then thinking to myself: 'I'm looking for 400 now'."
The atmosphere in the town was a sombre one for some time as eyewitness Maxwell Kerr recalls.
"We were sitting in our houses at Christmas but we didn't have any trees, cards and decorations - we took them down," he said.
"We sat and ate our dinner and we looked onto the site where you could see the jib of a crane working away lifting away all the material.
"There were no children playing about like you normally do at Christmas time with new bikes and toys."
The town has moved on in the intervening years, but Mr Kerr said it was right that it should mark a major anniversary.
"You realise just how lucky we are to have had another 20 years of life," he said.
"These people who died - that was it snuffed out in one second.
"I think you have never to forget this, it is too big an event, it is too big a disaster."
Paying tribute, First Minister Alex Salmond said: "I know that through the events being organised in Lockerbie, at Syracuse University, and at other locations in the UK and the US, that fitting tribute will be paid to those who so tragically lost their lives and those, in south of Scotland and beyond, whose lives have been affected by the atrocity."
He added "I offer my support to all involved in marking the anniversary and, in particular, my condolences to those who will be mourning the loss of a loved one."
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