Today, U.S. Embassy Beirut marked the 40th anniversary of the April 18, 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, in which a suicide bomber attacked the embassy, killing 63, including 52 Lebanese and American Embassy employees. Families of the victims joined Ambassador Shea, Deputy Chief of Mission Michaels, and the Embassy community to honor and pay tribute to the men and women who lost their lives in this attack, and to pay respects to their families and loved ones.
Forty years after the bombing, the United States remains committed to its efforts to defeat terrorists wherever they are. The American people will never forget those who lost their lives while pursuing peace, promoting human rights, and advancing fundamental freedoms.
Ambassador Shea laid a wreath at the U.S. Embassy memorial adorned with the phrase, “They Came in Peace,” as DCM Michaels placed a wreath at the site of the original embassy at Ayn Al-Mreisseh in Beirut. Members of the Embassy community said the names of each victim, remembered their service, and honored their sacrifice.
In her remarks, Ambassador Shea observed that, “those who made the decision to violently murder our colleagues, and to wound our Embassy family underestimated us. They did not understand that the bonds we all share are strong, despite the fear and intimidation that they may try to instill. Let us show, with our continued commitment to this community, to our shared goals, that in their effort to break us, Hizballah failed. No one can break the resolve we all share – to work together, care for one another, and support a better future for the Lebanese people. The people of the United States and Lebanon have the strength and the will to continue forward, into a better, brighter, and more peaceful future.”
Following are Ambassador Shea’s remarks:
Marhaba, Good Afternoon. Thank you all so much for joining the U.S. Embassy community today as we mark this somber occasion. I want to acknowledge the relatives of our fallen Embassy colleagues, who have joined us today, as you have so many times before. We are honored that you have maintained your connection with us. You are very special members of our community, our family, really.
To our Lebanese staff members, you, too, of course, are family. Thank you for your service at our sides, especially in these most challenging times as we commemorate today.
We have served together through difficult times, up through the extremely challenging circumstances that the country of Lebanon faces today. We have always been, and we remain, in this together.
To my American colleagues, in making the decision to serve here in Lebanon and join this community, you no doubt took into account the attacks that this embassy has withstood, and you chose to say yes. Thank you for saying yes.
And it is in that vein that I’d like to speak to you today, about the family that we have developed through time, in various spaces, here at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. In my three years here, I have been struck by the closeness, the more-than-collegiality, that unites everyone on this compound. We have celebrated birthdays, weddings, holidays, births, and anniversaries. We have shared meals together and opened our homes to one another. And we have held together through loss, from deaths and illnesses, to COVID, the Port blast, and the ongoing economic crisis.
In this bond of shared history and purpose, and of dedication to a brighter future for all Lebanese and Americans, which I hope can surround us on these painful moments like that which we commemorate today, we stand together.
We do so every year on this day. We remember our colleagues, our relatives, and our friends who lost their lives in the Embassy bombing of April 18, 1983. We come together here, as a means to fill the terrible void left in the lives of their families, friends, and our community.
This memorial stands as testament to the reality of that horrific attack. The names engraved on this wall were members of our family and yours. They strove, as we now do, to work hard for a better life for our countries and for all of us. They believed that building a strong relationship between Lebanon and the United States was an investment in a shared, more prosperous future. The 52 people whose names are listed here and who we commemorate today were just like each of us – colleagues, friends, community members.
Those who made the decision to violently murder 63 innocent people, and to wound our Embassy family, underestimated us. They did not understand that the bonds we share are strong, despite the fear and intimidation that others may try to instill. Let us show, with our continued commitment to this community, to our shared goals, that in their effort to break us, Hizballah failed. No one can break the resolve we all share to work together, care for one another, and support a better future for the Lebanese people. Our bond is stronger than the steel and cement of any building, and we can withstand our enemies and persevere the darkest times together.
The people of the United States and Lebanon have the strength and the will to continue forward, into a better, brighter, and more peaceful future. Peace be on their souls.
شكرا والسلام لأرواحهم