Three Village historian learns through travel

Three Village historian learns through travel

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The memorial to Pan Am Flight 103 victims at Dryfesdale Cemetery in Lockerbie, Scotland. Photo from Beverly Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

One of the pleasures of travel is discovering new things.

One of the blessings of travel is learning how people in other cultures have reacted to tragedy. On our recent trip to Scotland and England, we experienced both. In 2007, we had traveled to England and discovered they were using a new technology called a chip card. In some locations they did not accept our magnetic strip credit card but most places still did.

When we returned home, we talked to our bank and they were not familiar with this new technology.

For this trip we came prepared. Just before we left, our bank finally issued us a card with both a chip and a magnetic strip. That gave us three different cards, all with chips.

We were confident that we were well prepared and we were. The surprise was how easy it was to use the new chip card.

At every restaurant we visited the process was the same. The order was taken on a tablet, the bill was printed and the chip card reader was brought to the table where I inserted my card in the reader and removed it when the screen told me to.

That’s it, everything was done right at our table and I was the only one handling my credit card. The same process was used in stores, museums, pubs and every place we visited.

Scotland has maintained its independent spirit despite the tragedies that are so much a part of its history.

On our guided tour through the Highlands we saw where clan members were evicted from the land they had lived on for centuries. In the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, we saw a painting by Thomas Faed that dramatically illustrated the breakup of Highland families as many emigrated to America.

In the same museum we learned about merchants in cities such as Glasgow who grew rich by exploiting the many migrant workers who moved there from the Highlands. These 18th- and 19th-century changes dramatically ended forever the traditional Highland way of life.

Our last day in Scotland we stopped in Lockerbie where Pan Am Flight 103 exploded and crashed into homes on Dec. 21, 1988.

At Dryfesdale Cemetery reception and visitors center are panels of information on the history of the small town and the tragedy where 270 people died, including 11 on the ground.

We walked through the cemetery to the memorial, which is quite moving and appropriate for the location. The story of how Lockerbie pulled together is inspiring. The inhabitants not only faced the sudden death of members of their own community, but they opened their homes and their hearts to the relatives of the people who died on PA103, as well as to the officials investigating the crash and the media reporting on the tragedy.

Beverly Tyler is the Three Village Historical Society historian.