MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE N.C. --
Twenty-five years ago, 241 men gave their lives in the biggest non-nuclear explosion in history, catapulting this nation into a war now known as the Global War on Terrorism.
Veterans, active-duty service members and citizens from across America joined together at the Beirut Memorial, in remembrance of the men who died.
The ceremony had many distinguished guests attending including Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James T. Conway, 29th Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Alfred M. Gray Jr., the II Marine Expeditionary Force commanding general, Lt. Gen. Dennis J. Hejlik and the Mayor of Jacksonville, Sammy Phillips.
“We are one community, the Marines and the citizens of Jacksonville, here to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of freedom,” said Phillips.
Gen. Conway was greeted by the crowd with a standing ovation. His words were simple, but impactful.
“You can bloody our uniforms, you can fill our hearts with sorrow, but you can’t stop us,” said Gen. Conway. “We will replenish those units, and we will come after you with a terrible resolve.”
The Marines of Beirut are forever engraved upon the “Other Wall” in Jacksonville. Twenty-five years have passed since the day of the bombing, but America still holds the event in the forefront of their minds.
Family members and friends of fallen warriors gathered around the wall after the ceremony. Many people left tokens along the wall for their fallen heroes.
The explosion was responsible for the most Marine deaths in a single day since the battle of Iwo Jima.
The event concluded with Gen. Conway, Lt. Gen Hejlik, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune commanding officer, Col. Richard P. Flatau Jr., and the 8th Marine Regiment commander, Col. John K. Love placing a wreath at the memorial. A 21-gun salute honored those who gave their lives for peace.
One veteran walking away from the memorial said, “Today, I’m good. I’m with my brothers. This is where I needed to be today. Nowhere else but here.”