Page last updated at 16:40 GMT, Sunday, 21 December 2008

'Nothing will ever change the pain'

Wreath laying
Families and friends gathered to lay flowers in Lockerbie

By Giancarlo Rinaldi
South of Scotland reporter, BBC Scotland news website

The last section of road from Dumfries to Lockerbie winds up a hill towards the Dryfesdale Cemetery.

At most times, it is a quiet route but this Sunday the traffic was thicker than usual and the lay-bys were packed with cars parked nose-to-tail.

Minibuses, police vans and television trucks surrounded the grounds of the Garden of Remembrance.

They were there to mark the 20th anniversary of a day which nobody who knows the area could ever forget.

On 21 December 1988, a total of 270 people were killed when Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up over the town.

Nothing will ever change the pain, nothing will change those gut-wrenching experiences which followed this tragedy
Canon Michael Bands
Two decades on, families and friends huddled together in a Lockerbie graveyard to pay their respects.

The skies were cloud-laden, but a brave sun made a tentative attempt to break through on a typically indecisive Scots winter afternoon.

It beat a retreat later in the day to be replaced by a cold, raw wind blowing across the gravestones.

Long before the ceremony got under way people had started to gather around the large memorial carrying the names of all 270 victims.

Some have travelled from America, most from much closer to Lockerbie.

All of them hear the same words of warmth, sadness, remembrance and hope.

Community wishes

On one side of the memorial stand those who have come to lay flowers and pay their respect to the victims.

On the other, the massed ranks of the media have come to capture that tribute and relay it around the world.

It is a situation which Lockerbie has grown accustomed to over the years.

The simple wreath-laying ceremony was in keeping with the wider wishes of the community.

Dryfesdale ceremony
As the ceremony drew to a close people made their way back home
Canon Michael Bands attempted to sum up the feelings of everyone present.

"Nothing will ever change the pain, nothing will change those gut-wrenching experiences which followed this tragedy," he said.

"But how we deal with them, and how we go on in to the future history of this country depends so much on what we make of it all in our faith.

"This air disaster has long ceased to be a Lockerbie event and become a world event and it takes its place in the whole pattern of human experience of good and evil.

"But we still have the ability within us to make the changes."

A slow procession of people then made their tributes to the dead while a lone piper played.

There were tears, but this was also a show of the strength and determination of a small community to carry on in the face of adversity.

They were joined in their sorrow and memories by many more people in other ceremonies being held in the United States.

Slowly, everyone filtered away from Dryfesdale Cemetery back to the warmth and comfort of their homes.

They had honoured the lives which were lost 20 years ago in a quiet and dignified way.

Now it was time to return to getting on with everyday life.

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