Remarks by Ambassador David Hale Marking the Anniversary of the U.S. Marine Barracks Bombing in Beirut

-Delivered at an internal U.S. Embassy Beirut ceremony-

Good morning everyone.  Thank you very much for joining us today to remember the sacrifice of so many members of our Mission here in Lebanon.

We remember the victims today of several criminal and deadly acts of terrorism.  On April 18, 1983 a suicide bomber attacked the U.S. Embassy at Ayn Mreisseh, in Beirut, killing 63 Embassy employees, Lebanese and Americans alike, colleagues working together to bring peace and stability to this country.

In the early hours of October 23, 1983, another suicide bomber attacked members of the Multinational Force, peacekeepers at the U.S. Marine barracks and the French paratrooper barracks.  241 American marines, sailors and soldiers died, and 128 were wounded.  58 French soldiers died separately.

On September 20, 1984 yet another suicide bomber killed more innocent victims at what was then our newly completed embassy office, standing just over there in my line of sight, the Baaqlini building.  That attack brought to 327 the number of people killed in these three attacks alone.

And as this memorial testifies, there were other, smaller but no less painful acts of terror that took innocent lives over the years.

The images and memories of these criminal acts remain with us, most especially with those of you today who join us and who survived them.  No one should forget. And no one will forget.

 

More broadly, we have learned – starting right here in Lebanon – that despite the dangers, America cannot withdraw from places in trouble or in chaos.  It only makes the problems worse.

A fierce battle is underway, centered just a few hundred miles from here, but spread across the globe.  It is a battle between extremists consumed by hatred of anyone who dares to think or act differently from them on the one hand; and on the other, the forces who stand for civilization, acceptance, and co-existence.  That struggle is occurring even now today, in this country and on its borders, just look at today’s headlines.  And this is a primary reason why we are so active here to help prevent this country from slipping into conflict.

Today, we honor the men and women, American and Lebanese, military and civilian, lost in these attacks.  We honor the bravery of those who survived and struggled to rescue their comrades.  And we pay our respects to the families of those victims.

But the very best way to remember and honor our colleagues is to re-double our efforts to promote our values and defend our freedoms and way of life against the troubled few who oppose them.  There is no doubt that we will prevail.  Thank you.