Pan Am Flight 103 memorial service, Arlington National Cemetery

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National Press Release
Friday, December 21, 2012

Remarks as prepared for delivery by TSA Administrator John S. Pistole

Good afternoon. It is an honor to be with you today. For the families who have once again come together on this small piece of sacred ground, thank you for allowing us to join you. This date – the twenty-first of December – will forever connect us; one to another and each to the silent stone memorial behind me.

Our words can do little to repair the damage caused by such a callous and cowardly act of terrorism, but we offer them with hope. We offer them as a tribute to each of the 270 lives cut short, as a way to help carry their lives forward as we continue living ours. Our world is strengthened and fortified whenever loved ones lost are remembered in unison.   

It has now been twenty-four years since Pan Am Flight 103 was destroyed by a terrorist’s bomb in the night sky over Lockerbie, Scotland. Many of the children whose families were devastated that night are grown and starting families of their own. This is the ultimate victory over hatred and terror. The comfort and reassurance you have given each other over the years is an inspiration to anyone who has known such loss.

As others have said before me, this memorial service also gives us the opportunity to stand together, united in our search for justice. It is with pride we declare once again our unshakeable commitment to continue the investigation and to hold all those responsible for this monstrous crime accountable for their actions.

Throughout the last 10 years the men and women of the Transportation Security Administration have dedicated themselves to strengthening aviation security, to protecting not only our freedom to travel, but also the essential movement of commerce around the world.

When the Yemen toner cartridge plot was discovered in 2010, we saw firsthand how an attempted air cargo attack could have both far-reaching and devastating effects on the global economy and the security of the international supply chain which drives it. Vigilance and collaboration with our international partners is enabling us to stay one step ahead of those who are determined to destroy our way of life.

Throughout the world, at home and abroad, we have seen changes great and small in the years since December 21, 1988. Brutal dictators have been toppled and millions have been freed from their murderous oppression – but our search for justice must remain immutable. We owe that to each of you. Nobody can return what was taken from you that night – but we can, and will, continue to work and to fight for justice.

The vital counterterrorism work we do each day benefits all of us. Every new discovery, every victory, however small, not only brings us closer to earning justice for the victims of Pan Am Flight 103, but also helps secure and safeguard the precious lives of those they left behind.

Thank you.

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