Monday, October 24, 2011

Hope, Sacrifice and Faith 28 Years Later

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the US Marines. I knew them in the early 1980s in my father's grocery store in Beirut and loved seeing them ride around the city in their jeeps. They gave us hope and a general sense that we mattered to the world.  It was the message Lebanese people needed in a very dark time in our history.  

But one day, the unthinkable happened.  Just after 6 o'clock on a fateful Sunday morning (Oct. 23) in 1983, we woke up to what we thought was an earthquake, only to find out moments later that it was an attack on the Marine barracks on the west side of town.  The casualties were in the hundreds, including 241 Marines.  Our hearts were broken and our hope was shattered. 

A young girl recognizes a name on the Beirut Memorial wall and
reaches out to touch it during the commemoration of the 24th annual
Beirut Memorial Observance Ceremony, held at the Beirut Memorial,
Jacksonville, N.C. Oct. 23, 2010. It is a tradition to pay service members
who gave the ultimate sacrifice respects by touching their names and
vowing never to forget.  (Photo by
 Lance Cpl. Damany S. Coleman) 
Less than a year later, my family  completed interviews and paperwork at the US Embassy in Beirut and received the coveted visa to enter the US.  We quickly sold almost everything we owned in our beloved city, said our goodbyes and were on a plane to New York City.  

Our hope for a better future was back and we knew we mattered again.  

As soon as I was old enough, I went to a recruiting office to discuss enlisting in the Marines.  Thanks to my mother's sage advice and keen understanding of my independent nature, I decided against it.  

Today, I'm far different from the person I was in 1983 or at that recruiting office, but I'll never forget the sacrifice those Marines made.  The years have been very kind to us and so have Americans, but I still tear up when I see a US Marine.  I will always be grateful and faithful.


p.s.:  Please accept my apologies.  I initially posted this with the headline saying, "...25 Years Later."  Clearly 1983 was 28 years ago.  My mistake.  I apologize.

1 comment:

  1. We're grateful that you and your family found your way to us. And it's so heartwarming to know that the US Marines were thought of with this great regard and appreciation. So often the US tries to do the right thing, but is seen as an aggressor and not a protector.
    From the distance of 28 years, we now understand that the attack on the Marine barracks was a beginning of terrorist acts against our country. But we really didn't "get it" until 9/11. As a country we lost our innocence and are now sadder and wiser (we hope).