They Came in Peace: Beirut 1983
October 24, 2012 5 Comments
I started to write about the Beirut bombing of the marines back in 1983 several times and never got it to say what I wanted it to. Some of you may remember the situation, our marines were there to separate two factions in their civil war. But one of my favorite bloggers did, and so I’m going to let her tell you about it. In truth she was far closer to it than I was anyway as the wife of a Marine Officer.
She also makes a very valid point about command responsibility here. It is something that we need to make especial note of this election season, because we’ve found out what happens when the buck stops anywhere but the oval office.
So here is Cassandra of Villainous Company
They Came in Peace
Regimes planted by bayonets do not take root… Our military strength is a prerequisite to peace, but let it be clear we maintain this strength in the hope it will never be used, for the ultimate determinant in the struggle that’s now going on in the world will not be bombs and rockets but a test of wills and ideas, a trial of spiritual resolve, the values we hold, the beliefs we cherish, the ideals to which we are dedicated.
We bought our first home there; a three bedroom brick ranch affair in Brynn Marr. Marine life was still relatively new to two Navy juniors. I was busy planning activities with other Marine wives, terraforming our yard, sewing curtains and pillows and slipcovers and refinishing furniture in between long walks with two little boys and an incorrigible but loving beagle puppy. The spousal unit was working his way through the normal series of jobs in an artillery battalion. Life was slow paced – punctuated by field exercises and dinings in and out.
News of the Beirut bombing exploded like… well, a bomb into our peaceful existence. Suddenly, field exercises weren’t just training for some distant war that might never come.
In an instant, the abstract became terrifyingly real. But the truth is that time has fogged my memories of that long ago era. The armor of youth and inexperience insulated me from true grief or fear; with the invincibility of inexperience, I still believed in my heart of hearts that no harm would ever befall those I had come to love in this strange family affectionately known as Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children.
That knowledge was yet to come, repeated over and over again at Marine Balls where candles were lit, tears shed or stifled, and eyes averted from the empty place set at the table we shared.
I do, however, remember these words from our President:
“If there is to be blame, it properly rests here in this office, with this president,” Reagan said….
“Let me finally say that I have soberly consider the commission’s word about accountability and responsibility of authorities up and down the chain of command ….
“I do not believe, therefore, that the local commanders on the ground — men who have suffered quite enough — should be punished for not fully comprehending the nature of today’s terrorist threat. If there is to be blame it properly rests here in this office and with this president. And I accept the responsibility for the bad as well as the good.”
I didn’t read newspapers much then. I was far too busy keeping house and taking care of our little family. So I never delved too deeply into the whys and wherefores of what happened in Beirut. In 2002, the Presidential Oral History Program at the University of Virginia interviewed then-SecDef Casper Weinburger about the tragedy. It’s a sobering read, and a reminder of the heavy burden born by Presidents and of how terrifyingly easy it is to let our vigilance slip for a moment.
On this day, may we remember the men who protect the freedoms we enjoy. And their families, who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Read the entire article Villainous Company: They Came in Peace.
May we indeed remember them, not only today but always.
- Beirut: Echoes Of 1983 (thedailybeast.com)
- Remembering the 1983 Bombing of the Marine Barrack in Beirut (salem-news.com)