JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — People gathered Saturday morning to honor fallen service members and survivors during the 38th annual Beirut Memorial Observance. It takes place in Jacksonville every year on Oct. 23, the day that a suicide bomber struck a Marine Corp Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983.
Beirut Veterans of America from all over the county come to Jacksonville for the ceremony each year. Tradition holds the Beirut Veterans taking a photo in front of the wall reading, “They came in peace,” to commemorate their fallen brothers.
“It’s hard, this is a hard time for us, but to see some of the faces we haven’t seen in a while … it brings … you know, we take care of each other,” said Beirut veteran Ricky Williams.
The ceremony included a presentation of the colors by the young Marines of 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, the unit hit by the bombing 38 years ago. Among speakers was Brigadier General Andrew Niebel, Commanding General of Marine Corps Installations East.
“But it wasn’t until I deployed to Afghanistan … as a Battalion Commander … that I really learned what sacrifice meant,” Niebel said in his speech.
Myron Kyle, President of the Beirut Veterans of America, spoke about the importance of staying connected and reuniting each year at the ceremony.
“And as you can tell, there’s people here from California, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, things like that … this is the once a year that they can come here and reunite and tell war stories and remember their fallen brothers,” said Kyle.