On March 24, 1983, the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit, stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, received orders to Beirut, Lebanon. The United States agreed to establish a U.S. Military presence in that country to serve as a peacekeeping force in the conflict between warring Muslim and Christian factions.
In the early morning of October 23, 1983, the First Battalion, 8th Marines Headquarters building was destroyed by a non-Lebanese, terrorist-driven truck, laden with compressed gas-enhanced explosives.This truck, like many others, had become a familiar sight at the airport and so did not raise any alarm on this morning.The resulting explosion and the collapse of the building killed 241 Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers.
Many of the victims of the atrocity were residents of Jacksonville, North Carolina.They were known as fathers, neighbors, fellow church members, and little league baseball and soccer coaches.The community was stunned over the loss of these fine men. As a result, the community of Jacksonville initiated a Tree Project. The project was to plant rows of memorial trees, flowering Bradford Pear trees, on Lejeune Boulevard, the main traffic artery joining Jacksonville and Camp Lejeune, to honor our fallen neighbors.One tree was planted for each lost serviceman along Lejeune Boulevard and the completed tree project was dedicated on March 24, 1984. The initiation of this project in 1983 resulted in an immediate response from the general public, locally, and nationally, as funds began coming in to support this project and the Tree Project became the "birth” of the Beirut Memorial.
The full impact of the project is far beyond the beautiful memorial that now occupies the wooded site between Camp Lejeune and Jacksonville. The fund raising efforts, the cooperation of the entire community, the construction of the Memorial, and the commissioning of the statue have brought our civilian and military communities together so that we are virtually one. Annually, an observance is held that includes the families of the deceased, military personnel and the civilian community, further cementing that relationship.Never before has a civilian community constructed a memorial of this dimension, honoring their military neighbors. Forty-three years of proximity had not accomplished the unity that this one project has. This unity is the true impact of the Beirut Memorial.
The Bradford Row Chapter seeks to emulate this projects success, by bringing the unity of the Leather & Lace MC Sisterhood to other like-minded women, and putting special attention on how we can be dramatically more effective in improving the community around us. To read more about the Tree Project and the Beirut Memorial Click here http://www.lejeune.usmc.mil/visitors/beirut_memori...