It was great early-spring weather for a bike ride today. There was no longer any sign of the recent cold, rainy conditions that took away the cherry blossoms. Instead, the skies were clear. There was a slight breeze. And the temperature was just warm enough to hint of summer’s approach. So on this lunchtime bike ride I rode over to Arlington National Cemetery (MAP), and went for a long walk on the grounds. And it was during this walk that I visited the Beirut Barracks Memorial.
The Beirut Barracks Memorial honors the 241 American servicemen, comprised of 220 Marines, 18 sailors and three soldiers, who were killed in the October 23, 1983 terrorist bombing of the Marines barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. The bombing occurred during the Lebanese Civil War, when two truck bombs carrying what the FBI called the largest non-nuclear bomb in history, detonated by suicide bombers affiliated with a splinter group of the Iranian-and Syrian-supported Hezbollah organization, struck separate buildings housing United States and French military members of the Multinational Peacekeeping Force in Lebanon killing the U.S. servicemen, as well as 58 French peacekeepers, six civilians, and the two suicide attackers.
The memorial consists of a Lebanese cedar tree and a stone marker which reads, “‘Let Peace Take Root’ This cedar of Lebanon tree grows on living memory of the Americans killed in the Beirut terrorist attach and all victims of terrorism throughout the world. Dedicated during the first memorial ceremony for these victims. Given by: No Great Love. October 23, 1984. A Time of Remembrance.” And it is located in the green expanse of Arlington National’s Section 59, near the final resting place of some of the first Americans to shed blood in the fight against Middle East terrorism. Twenty-one service members who lost their lives in the Beirut Barracks Bombing are also buried in Section 59 near the memorial.