If there is a silver lining to tragedy, it’s the community that’s built around one.
Sopris Theatre Company’s production of “The Women of Lockerbie” opens tonight. It’s based on the true story of the Pan Am 103 plane that crashed over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 after a bomb went off on board.
On that flight were 35 Syracuse University students returning home following a semester studying abroad in London.
I was not even born when Pan Am 103 went down, but all it took was one year at Syracuse for me to feel the effects of this tragedy. The university still memorializes the students by setting up empty chairs on the quad, simulating where the students were sitting on the plane. There are also scholarships available in the name of each victim, which are awarded every year.
That act of terror has become a part of Syracuse University’s very social fabric. It’s a loss we all feel — even those of us who had no chance to know the students who died. It has built a strong sense of community among Syracuse students, faculty and staff.
A more recent tragedy is the 2008 shooting at Northern Illinois University, where I earned my bachelor’s degree. Five students were shot and killed in the classroom building Cole Hall before the gunman, an NIU alumnus, killed himself.
I was not on campus at the time. In fact, I was still in high school. But when I did get to NIU, which is less than an hour from my home, I could feel that tragedy all around me. Cole Hall was still under construction through my junior year. Outside the classroom building, a large, beautiful memorial for the five students serves as a constant reminder of the event.
But it didn’t elicit fear in me; it made me feel like I was a part of a place that overcame something monstrous. We, as a community, grew stronger because of it. I walked past that memorial and read the names of the dead almost every day, and I told myself I would do my best in my classes and try new things in life because those five students couldn’t. I owed it to them, even though we had never met.
“The Women of Lockerbie” is not about terrorism. It has political moments, but it’s really about what happens to the victims of a tragedy. There is grief, confusion, anger, hatred, but there is also love. Something grows out of the ashes of tragedy that would not have grown on its own. It’s fascinating and beautiful that human beings time and again find a way out of the darkness — together.
Symphony in the Valley’s annual Symphony Swing concerts take place on Friday and Saturday this year — on Valentine’s Day weekend for the first time. The dinner and dance takes place from 7 to 10 p.m. on Friday at Grand River Hospital in Rifle and from 6 to 10 p.m. on Saturday at the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs. However, tickets must be purchased in advance. They can be found at sitv.org/wp/upcoming-events.
If you’re looking for a unique Valentine’s Day option that’s great for your special someone or your friend, check out New Castle’s Speckled Feather Mercantile and its paint party date night at 5:30 p.m. For $30 per person, you’ll have access to all paint, supplies, step-by-step instruction and an 11-inch-by-14-inch take-home canvas. You and your partner will create a single image with your two canvases. RSVP and prepayment is required. Contact 970-573-6378.
Cozy Point Ranch in Snowmass Village is offering fun for the whole family with its Lil’ Wranglers Family Hoedown at 3 p.m. Live music and square dancing, pony rides, art and crafts, roping demonstrations, a farmyard with animals to pet, archery, bounce houses, face painting, a jewelry raffle, food and more are all in store for the $15 cost of admission.
Jessica Cabe recommends bringing tissues to “The Women of Lockerbie.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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