23 October 2011

Beirut 1983: "They came in peace"


I found this picture at the Beirut Memorial Online, and here you can find a list of the fallen from this terrible day. Go look, and think about the lives cut short, as represented by every name there.

Aerial view of the headquarters of Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 8th Marines, the ground combat element of the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit, in Beirut, Lebanon where 220 Marines, 18 Sailors, and three soldiers were killed when an explosive-laden truck slammed into the building on Oct. 23, 1983, completely destroying the structure.

Source: U.S. State Department.

[...]October 23, 1983 bombing of the United States Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. The United States honors the sacrifices of the 241 American servicemen who lost their lives that day in service of their country while protecting the stability of Lebanon. The Marine barracks memorial on the grounds of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut reads, “They came in peace.”

(picture: courtesy of University of Maine)

"...Make the people who wished us harm understand...we were not defeated...we are still here..." (source)

1983: Beirut blasts kill US and French troops
At least 146 American marines and 27 French servicemen have been killed after two separate bomb attacks on military headquarters in the Lebanese capital Beirut.

Two lorries containing 4000lb (1.4 tonnes) bombs exploded when they hit the buildings, the US Battalion Landing Team headquarters and the French paratroopers base which are situated just four miles (6km) apart.

The death toll is expected to rise to more than 200 as people remain trapped inside the collapsed buildings.


The US Secretary of Defence, Caspar Weinberger, insisted there was "strong circumstantial evidence" that Iran was behind the attacks but did not rule out possible Syrian and Soviet involvement.

"There are no words that can properly express our outrage and, I think the outrage of all Americans at this despicable act " President Reagan

(BBC here)

Arlington Cemetery also has a section dedicated to the fallen of October 23, 1983, here.

On October 27th, President Ronald Reagan gave a national address. He said, in part:

In these last few days, I've been more sure than I've ever been that we Americans of today will keep freedom and maintain peace. I've been made to feel that by the magnificent spirit of our young men and women in uniform and by something here in our Nation's Capital. In this city, where political strife is so much a part of our lives, I've seen Democratic leaders in the Congress join their Republican colleagues, send a message to the world that we're all Americans before we're anything else, and when our country is threatened, we stand shoulder to shoulder in support of our men and women in the Armed Forces.

May I share something with you I think you'd like to know? It's something that happened to the Commandant of our Marine Corps, General Paul Kelley, while he was visiting our critically injured marines in an Air Force hospital. It says more than any of us could ever hope to say about the gallantry and heroism of these young men, young men who serve so willingly so that others might have a chance at peace and freedom in their own lives and in the life of their country.

I'll let General Kelley's words describe the incident. He spoke of a ``young marine with more tubes going in and out of his body than I have ever seen in one body.''

``He couldn't see very well. He reached up and grabbed my four stars, just to make sure I was who I said I was. He held my hand with a firm grip. He was making signals, and we realized he wanted to tell me something. We put a pad of paper in his hand -- and he wrote `Semper Fi.' ''

Well, if you've been a marine or if, like myself, you're an admirer of the marines, you know those words are a battlecry, a greeting, and a legend in the Marine Corps. They're marine shorthand for the motto of the Corps -- ``Semper Fidelis'' -- ``always faithful.''


That marine and all those others like him, living and dead, have been faithful to their ideals. They've given willingly of themselves so that a nearly defenseless people in a region of great strategic importance to the free world will have a chance someday to live lives free of murder and mayhem and terrorism. I think that young marine and all of his comrades have given every one of us something to live up to.

They were not afraid to stand up for their country or, no matter how difficult and slow the journey might be, to give to others that last, best hope of a better future. We cannot and will not dishonor them now and the sacrifices they've made by failing to remain as faithful to the cause of freedom and the pursuit of peace as they have been.

I will not ask you to pray for the dead, because they're safe in God's loving arms and beyond need of our prayers. I would like to ask you all -- wherever you may be in this blessed land -- to pray for these wounded young men and to pray for the bereaved families of those who gave their lives for our freedom.

God bless you, and God bless America.

(The whole thing here)

From the US Marine Corps site:

The 23rd of October; ‘Our first duty is to remember’

ARLINGTON, Va. — Veterans, families, friends and various dignitaries gathered under blue skies at section 59 in Arlington National Cemetery on Oct. 17 to remember their loved ones and brothers in arms.

Since 1984, the remembrance ceremony has been an annual event of sorrow and celebration for the men who gave their lives during a peace keeping mission in Beirut.

At approximately 6:22 a.m., on Oct. 23, 1983, an Islamic terrorist drove a yellow delivery truck into the lobby of the Marine Corps barracks at Beirut International Airport. The vehicle exploded with a force equivalent to 12,000 pounds of TNT, destroying the building and killing 220 Marines, 18 sailors and three soldiers. Additionally, 58 French paratroopers were killed in a separate attack just two minutes later as they were mobilizing to assist their fellow service members.

“Most of our countrymen probably believe this global war on terror started on 9/11,” said Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James T. Conway. “I don’t believe that for a moment. I believe it started in October of 1983 when we first saw a significant strike on the young men – Marine, Navy and Army, who were in that building in Beirut.”

During the ceremony, families of the fallen were called forward to lead everyone in the pledge of allegiance.


“We hope you will be consoled in the knowledge that others remember, you are not forgotten and never will be,” said Carmella LaSpada, executive director of the Whitehouse Commission of Remembrance. “Love has brought us together today, a love for those we honor, and a love for our nation.”


“They lost their lives while in a peace keeping mission,” [Lebanese Ambassador Antoine] Chedid said. “I’m here to pay tribute to them for their bravery. They paid the ultimate sacrifice in the service of peace. Twenty-seven years later, their memory is still in our hearts.”

For the Marines, sailors soldiers who were there, the memory will forever remain etched in their minds.

Craig Renshaw, president of Beirut Veterans of America, said it’s important to remember the lives of the men who died that day. Most Marines knew at least one person who died. For them, the memory is going to be there forever, but it’s up to the chapters, those who were affected and a younger generation to remind others what happened when we suffered the first blow in the war on terror.

“Remembrance is not letting the memory of the guys who gave their lives be forgotten,” he said. “It’s all about them.” [emphasis mine]

Go read the rest here.

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Semper Fi, Marines.

Yes, this IS a repost from last year, but this quote still remains true - and always will

“Remembrance is not letting the memory of the guys who gave their lives be forgotten,” he said. “It’s all about them.”

Just the other day I found this video, posted by someone who says:

This is a Tribute to my Fallen USMC Brothers who Died 6:22 am October 23rd, 1983.
I came home from Beirut. They did not.
Semper Fi my Brothers.
I will,,
Remember the Peacekeepers.
You My Brothers ..
You Are NOT forgotten

Uploaded by on Oct 21, 2011

Always remembered. ALWAYS honoured.

*cross-posted from Assoluta Tranquillita*

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