News that the suspected Libyan bombmaker responsible for blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, on December 21, 1988, is now in American custody is another example of why I write a blog that ties historical, personal and current events to incidents and people in my life.
Among the 259 passengers who perished aboard that fateful airplane was one of my cousins, Mark Alan Rein (another 11 Scottish innocents died on the ground).
Alan, as he was commonly known, was the treasurer of Salomon Bros., a Wall Street firm. A 1965 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, my cousin was just 44 years old, married, the father of two children, Nicole, 12, and Alexander, 9. He was returning from a trip to England before going on a vacation with his wife, Denice, to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary.
In truth, though Alan was just five years older, I have few memories of him. His father, Moe, was my father’s first cousin. I vaguely recall going to Alan’s bar mitzvah, but our families rarely socialized. One memory I have is visiting their apartment. Alan’s mother suffered from multiple sclerosis. I also remember being proud I had a cousin attending Annapolis.
Alan’s funeral was held at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan. It was the first and only time I have been inside this edifice, considered the largest and one of the most beautiful synagogues in the world. Almost all of its 2,500 seats were occupied. Alan’s older brother, Bert, delivered a eulogy. Bert is a well-connected Washington lawyer who has frequently appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court representing conservative and business interests.
I am forever amazed at the single degree of separation I have to many events and people in the news.