Wednesday, August 27, 2003 Back The Halifax Herald Limited
Families to observe fifth Swissair anniversary
May be last formal event marking crash
By Michael Lightstone / Staff Reporter
The fifth - and perhaps last - annual formal function honouring the 229 people killed in the Swissair disaster off Nova Scotia is set for next week.
Organizer John O'Donnell said Tuesday some of the victims' relatives are already in metro to mark the tragedy. Most are due to arrive during the Labour Day weekend.
Swissair Flight 111 crashed into St. Margarets Bay on the night of Sept. 2, 1998, after a fire onboard. The plane was en route to Geneva from New York, and all passengers and crew died.
"My sense is this year is probably the last of the so-called formal observances," said Mr. O'Donnell, a military reserves chaplain in Halifax and member of an interfaith group handling the Swissair anniversary. The interfaith group won't be involved next year, he said.
Mr. O'Donnell said that for many relatives, the five-year milestone, which follows a final accident report in March by Canada's Transportation Safety Board, seems like a logical time to end the planned ritual.
But he said family and others close to those who perished "will always" come here to remember their loved ones.
Several families from other parts of North America and from Europe are intending to attend the fifth anniversary events. Mr. O'Donnell said others taking part will be Nova Scotians who helped with the recovery operation and crash investigation.
On Tuesday, a public gathering and prayer service is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Bayswater memorial. A reception will follow at the Blandford community centre.
Mr. O'Donnell said that at 4 p.m., about 25 family members will travel by boat to the crash site, 11 kilometres from Peggys Cove.
A brief prayer service will be held on the water.
According to Ottawa's crash report, wiring feeding the jet's entertainment system likely contributed to the fire, which filled the Boeing MD-11's cockpit with smoke.
The $57-million probe, which produced 23 recommendations, concluded the pilots acted appropriately after smelling smoke 53 minutes into the doomed flight.
My Mom and Dad (John and Nancy)are leaving this morning to head to Halifax. I don't believe my mother will ever stop going on September 2nd as long as she is alive.
Wish I was going too, but with Maggie Bay(4 weeks old the 29th), it would be alittle hard this year.
I miss seeing all my friends and other family members in Nova Scotia.
To all that are going, be safe.
Jim, I would think that if enough families did want to continue to mark this tragic anniversary in a formal way they could probably organize something that would accomplish that. I wish your parents a safe journey to Halifax. My thoughts are with you Jim and your family throughout this very difficult weekend. 5 years just doesn't seem possible. It almost feels as though time has stood still to me.
I doubt this will be the last of the organized anniversary events.
My GGgrandfather was a survivor of the worst maritime disaster, the Sultana tragedy April 27,1865 and there are still annual anniversary gatherings.
Mary I've sent you a PM
Mary I also think that if enough people want to carry on the tradition they should certainly be able to do that. It isn't something that Mark and I have felt comfortable participating in but we'd hate to think those that wanted to continue were unable. I think that many of us have a similar goal- that these incredible people never be forgotten but have different ways to accomplish that.
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