...liberty and justice for all.

Laurie Ciulla speaking at a rally in Englewood, NJ on Aug 30th, 2009.

My name is Laurie Ciulla, and my father, S. Frank Ciulla died on Dec. 21st, 1988.

I made a promise to myself 20 years ago that if I were to ever speak publicly about my father's life or death, I would only do so if what I had to contribute was positive or optimistic. According to my 19 year old self at the time, it was anger and hatred that brought down Pan Am Flight 103, and I wanted no part. The most significant advice I could ever remember my father giving me was to "be happy." I remember him saying that happiness was a choice. I promised myself that I would honor that and I would make him proud.

Well, 20 years have passed and I can assure you that little has changed. My father is still dead. My mother's still a widow, and my 3 children still haven't met their grandfather. In the past 20 years, though my commitment to joy and peace remain, there have been lawyers and depositions; memorials and dedications; trials and tribulations; unprecedented grief and pain, doubt and confusion. There has been more terror and little progress. There has been no closure - and whatever sliver of justice the families of the victims of Pan Am 103 had experienced with the conviction of Al-Megrahi - it has been taken away - supposedly in the name of compassion. All of that work. All of that time and energy that went into the efforts of so many to just simply get a terrorist off of the streets and out of our way. So that our loved ones did not die in vain and so that others might not experience this horror - this should not have happened.

Unfortunately, as you can imagine, I have run out of optimism. It's a difficult thing to hold on to when your ideals are challenged like my family's have been during recent events. We are living, as my sister has stated in a letter to Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, "our worst case scenario." She goes on to say that it is as if this were "a bad dream in which the unimaginable happens and justice can be undone."

We gave up on fair a long time ago, but we held on to compassion. How dare anyone try to redefine what that is? The opposite of compassion is not vengeance, nor are justice and mercy mutually exclusive. We have "values" also, and we, too, "pride ourselves on our humanity." What any of this has to do with the law will forever confound me.

And here we are faced with yet another opportunity to do what is right and honor the memories of not only the 270 victims of Pan Am, but of all those who have found themselves victims of terrorism. As a nation, we just simply cannot host Colonel Gaddafi. He is not welcome here, any more than any other terrorist would be. His presence would add insult to an injury that has yet to be given a chance to heal.

I am so grateful to you, Rabbi, and to you, Kathy, for giving me this opportunity to share my thoughts. My family and I are also so grateful to everyone here for your support and for your willingness to take a stand against terrorism.