Service members who lost their lives in the Beirut bombing were honored with an annual memorial service in Jacksonville Tuesday.
“There is nothing higher than to die for something you believe in,” said Stephen Baynard, who lost his father, James Baynard.
While trying to keep the peace in Beirut, Lebanon, 241 military members lost their lives in the bombing on October 23, 1983.
The Beirut Memorial in Jacksonville is a place people gather year-round, especially for the annual memorial service to honor the lives lost 35 years ago.
“I am here with my son and my mom,” said Baynard. “We’re supporting my father that was killed in the Beirut bombings.”
Baynard, 35, has never missed a memorial.
“Every year since I was born,” said Baynard. “I was only a month and a half old when it happened, so every year I turn another year. I am the same age as it happens.”
He was among dozens of grieving family members visiting the wall Tuesday, touching the engraved names of those who lost their lives.
“I am closer to him,” Baynard said. “I can touch it and feel it. I almost have a deeper connection to the wall than I do his gravesite.”
Many Beirut veterans came to the service to keep the memories of their brothers alive, like Myron Kyle, who was a combat engineer in Beirut following the blast.
“The first and last Marine killed in Lebanon were engineers,” said Kyle. “I think they would be very honored that we do remember them because we were young at the time, 19 or 20 years old, and they are forever young. We carry on their names so they live on.”
Baynard’s father was 23 when he died in the bombing.
“It is cemented here, the decision that he made,” Baynard said. “I just get a little step closer to knowing who he was. I owe, because of my father’s sacrifice for me.”