Ambassador Elizabeth H. Richard Remarks at the Commemoration of the U.S. Embassy Bombing

Ambassador Richard speaking at the Embassy memorial

Thank you everyone for being with us here this morning.  I really appreciate that.  I appreciate especially the attendance of our honored guests who are with us today.

We are here today to remember our colleagues who were taken from us 34 years ago in a terrorist attack on the U.S. Embassy.  We lost 52 staff members that day, Lebanese and Americans who were working together to bring peace and stability to this country.  They were our loved ones, our colleagues, our friends.  Many others of them were wounded.  Some of you who are here today with us are among those survivors.  Your courage and strength are the soul of our community.  We strive to look up to your commitment and to honor those we lost, in the best way that we can, by giving meaning to their sacrifice.

I wanted to say a word about how we do that, and we want to do that every single day, not only in our words, but also in our deeds.

Our Consular section helps Lebanese visitors, students, and businessmen going to the United States.  Our military colleagues are working side by side with Lebanese soldiers, training with them, and providing equipment and supplies.  INL and LEGATT work as partners with the ISF and with the courts to ensure safety and the protection of rights for all.  USAID is boosting the ability of the government to provide for its citizens.  It is providing amazing educational opportunities for the young in Lebanon.  PRM is helping Lebanese communities bear the burden of a million and a half refugees which the Lebanese communities around the country have so generously hosted.  MEPI is working every day to strengthen civil society. Our Public Affairs Section is building bridges with their educational and their exchange programs.  Our Political Section is strengthening the bilateral relationship with the Lebanese Government.  Here at home — because this embassy compound for many of us, for all of us, really is our home — RSO , our guard force, and the Marines are keeping us safe, and all the elements of the Management section provide for us; every single day.  You are all part of what we are building here, what we have built here and what we will continue to build into the future.

So the attack did not achieve what its planners had hoped.  They had hoped to divide us and to break us, and they failed. We are still here, Lebanese and Americans working side by side for the future of this country.

I want to say something very important and I think it is a very special time and a very special year that we are marking this date today. In two days we are going to break ground for a new embassy compound.   This day is long overdue as many of you know.  This billion dollar investment — and it is over a billion dollar investment — is the strongest possible evidence of American commitment to Lebanon.  The cultural diversity, the strong ties to the global community, and the entrepreneurial spirit of the Lebanese are also traits of that are an integral part of what America is.  This is a very special partnership that we share.

The new embassy compound represents, not just a billion-dollar commitment by the United States to Lebanon, but it represents a moral commitment to the people of Lebanon that we respect as unbreakable bond.  So, as we pause today to remember very sad day in our shared history, I hope we can leave today the ceremony with a sense of optimism.  Together we can defeat any enemy, and together we can, and we will, build a wonderful future for Lebanon, and for the United States — together.  I think this new building as you will all see takes shape in the coming years is just another physical and concrete testament to that.  So, thank you all very much for being with us today.