Remarks By Kathryn M. Turman, Assistant Director of Victim Services, Federal Bureau of Investigation

Thank you, Melanie, for your kind words. I am honored and humbled to speak before the families of those we lost 30 years ago. It has been said that the dead are never really gone as long as someone speaks their names. For 30 years and in many places, we have spoken the names of the 270 individuals who were killed in the air and on the ground on Dec. 21, 1988. We continue to speak their names. When we do, we see their faces and remember their stories. And we know with absolute certainty that death is not the end of the story.

The hearts of family members remain broken over what should have been. The world is a different place when a person we have dearly loved is no longer part of it. But we can take that relationship that is part of the past into the life we live in the present. In identifying with the people we have loved and lost—by fulfilling their dreams and our own, by applying what we learned from them in daily life—we remain connected to them. The love we have for them is invisible but invincible.

Author and theologian Frederick Buechner said, “When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind, even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart. For as long as you remember me, I am never entirely lost.”

A 13-year-old girl whose father was killed in the 9/11 terrorist attack said, “Every day we are given stones. But what do we build? A wall or a bridge?” As families and friends of Pan Am 103 victims, you have built not just stone memorials but an enduring legacy that that has increased in both scope and power over the past 30 years.

There are as many perspectives and opinions among you as there are individual family members, but as a collective group you have changed the landscape for victims of terrorism. You have fought to improve aviation security. You have fought to change laws to hold countries that support terrorists responsible for their crimes. You have fought to ensure that the U.S. government does a better job of supporting victims and keeping them informed.

The Victim Services Division of the FBI exists because of your experience—both positive and negative—and the lasting impression it has had on FBI and DOJ officials who worked this case. The Victim Services Division works with victims of many types of crime, from child victims of exploitation and violence to complex cybercrimes. When acts of terrorism and mass violence occur in the United States, the FBI’s Victim Services Response Team is there—to provide sensitive death notification, to help with immediate needs such as emergency travel and lodging, to keep families informed, and to collect, identify, clean and return the personal effects of victims to their families. Families are no longer left on their own to navigate the aftermath of an act of terror. We strive to keep the dignity, needs and perspectives of victims and families at the center of all we do and how we do it. This is part of the enduring legacy of Pan Am 103.

We come here to honor and remember the 270 individuals whose lives were taken and we also reflect on the joy they brought to so many lives. We come here to remind the world of something that should never be forgotten. While terrorism is still with us we must not forget that terrorism does not have the last word. On the 24th anniversary, former FBI Director Robert Mueller spoke these words. “Your resolve has been unending. For you recognize that over the course of time, water is stronger than rock. Courage is stronger than fear. Love is stronger than hatred. And in the end, truth will triumph over terrorism.”

I speak for my colleagues in the FBI, past and present, when I say the FBI does not forget. The active pursuit of truth and justice for the victims of the bombing of Pan Am 103 remains our mission and our goal.

A tragedy such as this touches many lives. The impact moves ever outward like ripples on the surface of water. Thirty years have passed but just look around you. There are countless people here and around the world who form an unbroken chain between the past, the present and the future. While these 270 individuals were denied the opportunity to complete their lives and pursue their dreams, they continue to inspire us and others to make the world a safer, more compassionate and wiser place.

Let us renew our commitment to their memories, to justice and to a future made better because they walked the earth and left us their dreams. We can echo James Joyce in saying, “They lived and laughed and loved and left, and the world will never be the same.”

Again, thank you for the honor to speak before you.