Within weeks, heartbroken and outraged victims’ families across America became a crusading force demanding government address critical issues stemming from the attack. Citing the deadly pattern of “business as usual,” to protect and subsidize industry interests over public interest, these accidental activists championed historical changes to enhance flyers’ victims’ rights and get basic restitution. Their work continues to bring all attackers to justice and keep flyers safe.
The December 21, 1988 terrorist attack profoundly changed the lives of tens of thousands of people around the globe including Americans, Scots, and victims’ families from 21 different countries. From the tragedy emerged stories of sacrifice, hope, resilience, generosity, and advocacy. The Foundation is committed to documenting these essential stories and to giving voice to the victims’ loved ones, first responders, clergy, scouts, and Lockerbie community; the Pan Am Airways; Syracuse University.
Within hours of the crash, over 300 firemen and 1,000 police officers from across Scotland arrived to aid in the search for victims and recovery of evidence. In the following months, hundreds more UK and US investigators joined these efforts, which spanned a disaster area of 845 square miles.
When Pan Am 103 crashed into Lockerbie, Scotland, residents of the small community leapt to action. They selflessly aided first responders, assisted with the months-long search effort, and hosted grieving victims’ families. They built profound and lasting relationships with each other and with those impacted by the attack globally.
Victims' families had to navigate slow, inaccurate information from airlines, authorities, and the news media. Lockerbie was overrun with destruction and death. Syracuse U. lost alumni. Pan Am employees lost co-workers, then their jobs. The global impact involved the loss of homes, workplaces, security and a sense of trust in the U.S. and UK governments.
In the months and years following the terrorist attack, many victims' loved ones channeled their grief and anger into political action. These individuals had no background or training in activism, and they fought for and accomplished tremendous change in aviation security, disaster crisis management, and restitution for victims of terrorism.
Out of the disaster emerged a diverse ensemble of professionals and families who fought for change. From advocating for flyers' rights, demanding legislation, to filing a civil lawsuit against the terrorists, these courageous advocates secured meaningful change that makes the sky a safer place. Their quest for truth, to bring all terrorists to justice and to keep flyers safe continues.
For more than three decades, individuals and organizations have worked to uncover the truth about the attack; advocate for justice, accountability, and change; and honor victims and survivors. We salute this inspirational work and aspire to build upon all bodies of work, amplifying voices to tell the complete Pan Am 103 Lockerbie story.