Good afternoon and welcome to our guests.
Thank you for joining us today to remember the sacrifice of so many brave men and women. Thirty three years ago, on October 23, 1983, 241 American marines, sailors, and soldiers died and 128 were wounded when a suicide bomber attacked the U.S. Marine Corps barracks here in Beirut. Later in the day, 58 brave French soldiers were killed in a similar attack.
These courageous Marines and paratroopers were members of the Multinational Force –peacekeepers who came to Lebanon to support the Lebanese people, and protect their life and liberty.
All US troops were withdrawn the next year, except for the Marine Amphibious Unit of the Multinational Force, who remained in Lebanon for three more years.
Now, 28 years later, U.S. Marines have returned to Lebanon. The U.S. Embassy’s Marine Security Guard Detachment is composed of 14 dedicated men and women. They bring with them a high degree of professionalism, valor, and commitment.
Working shoulder to shoulder with our Lebanese team, they support and safeguard all of us here today, so that we can do the important work of helping our partners, the Lebanese people, build a strong, stable, democratic and prosperous nation.
I believe the most powerful memorials are often the most simple. In a few moments, we will read the names of all of the Americans who lost their lives on October 23, 1983.
This will remind us, as we are reminded every day as we pass by this memorial, that the names on this list were real people.
They had ambitions, and plans, and dreams. They were someone’s spouse, someone’s parent, someone’s child. And they were our colleagues – whether we personally worked with them or not. Because we are still today, working and fighting for the same values, and the same mission.
Today, we honor the sacrifice and commitment of the fallen, and the courage and humanity of their families and loved ones. The best way to remember these heroes is to keep working together, every day, to defend the ideals they died for.