[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1993, Book II)]
[December 21, 1993]
[Pages 2195-2196]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]



Remarks at the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Pan Am Flight 103 
Memorial in Arlington, Virginia
December 21, 1993

    Thank you very much. Thank you. I believe, ladies and gentlemen, 
before you sit we should give a standing ovation to Jane for all the 
work that she has done here. [Applause] Thank you very much, Senator and 
Mrs. Kennedy, Senator Lautenberg, General Reno, and most importantly, 
the families, friends, and supporters of Pan Am 103.
    On this day, 5 years ago, Pan American flight 103 was torn from the 
sky over the hills of Lockerbie, Scotland. Today we assemble in solemn 
remembrance to dedicate a simple monument to the victims of a savage act 
of terrorism. Here there will soon stand a cairn, the traditional 
Scottish marker for the resting place of the dead, built of 270 stones 
to memorialize 259 passengers and crew and the 11 villagers below whose 
lives were stolen without warning. Each tells the story of a life 
wrongfully cut short. Like so many of you here today, these granite 
stones have traveled a long way, carved from a quarry in Lockerbie and 
donated to the families of those who were murdered. These rose-red 
stones are now given to the Nation to stand here among so many silent 
markers of our Nation's sacrifice.
    There were on that day 189 Americans, including 25 members of our 
Armed Forces, aboard Pan Am 103. We honor them. This memorial will serve 
as lasting testament to the innocent who died, to the grieving who 
survive them, to the brave who found in tragedy the strength and the 
persistence to ensure that their children, their parents, their brothers 
and sisters would not be forgotten.
    I know this season must be especially difficult for all of you. I 
know you still see their faces and hear their voices and feel their 
absence, and nothing the rest of us can do can erase that loss. But I 
say to you today that our Nation will never stop pursuing justice 
against those who caused it, for the attack on Pan Am 103 was an attack 
not only on the individuals from 21 nations who were aboard the 
aircraft, it was an attack on America.
    Our creed of freedom and opportunity is not a mere abstraction and 
neither are its enemies. Indeed, the states that sponsor terrorism know 
that the American idea is a mortal threat to their illegitimate and 
repressive authority. They know, too, that history, the rising tide of 
democracy seen everywhere in the world, is turning against them. And so 
with terrorism and any other means at their disposal, they lash back. We 
saw it in Pan Am 103. We saw it at the World Trade Center. We saw it in 
an attempt to assassinate former President Bush. These outlaws seek to 
legitimize their voice through violence, to advance their agenda through 
threats, to cripple our daily lives through fear. My friends, you and 
the efforts you have made are proof that they fundamentally 
misunderstand the

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character of America.
    Just a few moments ago, I had the opportunity to meet with some 
representatives of the families of Pan Am 103. It was clear to me as 
never before that the brutality of their crime only fortified your 
determination, and I can tell you it only fortifies the determination of 
your Nation and its Government. That is why we remain determined to see 
that those who murdered those who were aboard Pan Am 103 are brought to 
justice, why we have demanded the surrender of the two Libyans indicted 
for this vicious offense, why we have pushed for and secured tougher 
international sanctions against Libya, and why we will not rest until 
the case is closed.
    As we break ground, let us vow again that we will do all we can to 
protect our people. And let us draw renewed strength from the lives of 
the individuals in whose memories we come to honor.
    I want to read to you in closing the words of Georgia Nucci, who 
lost her son over Lockerbie and later assembled an extraordinary book 
about the lives of each of the victims. As she returned from Scotland, 
she wrote the following: ``Out of the ashes of this disaster came a 
torrent of love and friendship and help freely given from a whole 
community that was itself a victim.''
    Today is the shortest day of the year. But the winter solstice is 
also a turning point from which the light begins to return. While this 
season and this day for you and for all Americans are blackened by the 
agony of senseless loss, I pray that each of your lives will be 
brightened in some measure by the monument we dedicate here.
    Let us grieve for those who fell from the firmament, and those who 
lay below, on that winter day still frozen so clearly in your memory. 
The Bible says: ``Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be 
comforted.'' As each stone is set in this cairn, may your wounds set and 
heal as well. And as long as this monument shall stand, may you find 
comfort in the knowledge that your Nation stands behind you.
    I ask you now to join me in a moment of silent prayer.
    I'd like now to ask Constable George Esson and Eleanor and Nicky 
Bright to join Jane Schultz down here for the groundbreaking ceremony.

Note: The President spoke at 10:23 a.m. at Arlington National Cemetery. 
In his remarks, he referred to Jane Schultz, executive vice president, 
Victims of Pan Am Flight 103; Chief Constable George Esson of Dumfries, 
Scotland; and Eleanor and Nicky Bright, family members of a Pan Am 
flight 103 victim. The proclamation of December 17 on the fifth 
anniversary day of remembrance is listed in Appendix D at the end of 
this volume.