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Camp Lejeune observes Beirut bombing anniversary

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US Marine stands in front of the ruins of the Marine operations center, destroyed in a suicide bombing attack, Beirut, Lebanon. US Marine stands in front of the ruins of the Marine operations center, destroyed in a suicide bombing attack, Beirut, Lebanon.
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - It was the first major terrorist attack on the U.S.

Now, 30 years after the bombing on Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, veterans, Marines and families of the victims came together to reflect and remember.

It's been three decades since the deadly Beirut bombing. But families and friends of the victims whose names now grace the wall say the memories and the hurt are still fresh.

With a heavy heart, Beirut veteran Bill Harrison paid his respects.

"It's opened my eyes thinking I could not have been here. And that would've changed everything, my family, my kids, it's an eye-opener," said Bill Harrison, Beirut veteran.

Harrison was just 400 yards away when a suicide bomber drove a truck full of explosives into the military barracks in Beirut back in 1983.

The explosion killed 241 Americans, many who were Camp Lejeune Marines stationed there as peace-keepers in a civil war between Christian and Muslim factions.

"They had come in peace. They were there to help that country, to help the civilians, and that's what they got for it. Their sacrifice," said Harrison.

Wednesday marked 30 years since it happened.

Thousands showed up at the remembrance ceremony in Jacksonville, where the Marine Corp's finest thanked families of the victims for their sacrifice.

Marines then sang, fired a 21-gun salute, and laid wreaths on a memorial etched with names of the dead.

For some, it's all they have left.

"To see so many people that you don't have any idea who they are, but are feeling the same loss,” said Katherine Moody, cousin died in Beirut. “I hope it's going to help."
 
It's a community bonded together by the painful memories of an attack the Marine Corps’ top general says kicked off America's war on terror.

"The nation was not expecting this. There was a new kind of warfare, the threat of radical extremists being able to target military and civilian personnel with weapons of mass destruction for political, religious and personal gains. It was a new way to attack the West. It was a cowardly attack on freedom," said Gen. James Amos, Marine Corps Commandant.

A cowardly attack, Harrison says took too many lives too soon. 

"As our Beirut Veterans of American motto is, our first duty is to remember. And you'll never be forgotten," said Harrison.

More than 3000 people came to the ceremony today, which Camp Lejuene officials say is the most in the event's history.

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