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Solemnly Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Tragic October 1983 Terrorist Bombing of the United States Marine Corps Barracks In Beirut, Lebanon

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


SOLEMNLY COMMEMORATING THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE TRAGIC OCTOBER 1983 TERRORIST BOMBING OF THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS BARRACKS IN BEIRUT, LEBANON -- (House of Representatives - September 24, 2008)

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. LaHOOD. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of this resolution, a similar resolution of which I introduced at the suggestion of the ranking member of the Rules Committee, DAVID DREIER. He spoke to me about this and suggested that this type of resolution be considered by the House. I want to thank the majority leader for scheduling this resolution to commemorate and honor those who lost their lives in Beirut, Lebanon, during the bombing that took place.

I also want to thank my classmate and friend, WALTER JONES, for his leadership in introducing this resolution. I rise today to honor the United States Marines and other servicemembers who were killed in the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, Lebanon, on October 23, 1983.

On this day at approximately 6:20 a.m., a delivery truck carrying explosives drove through the gates into one of the barracks buildings and the explosives were detonated. This day was the deadliest for the United States Marine Corps since the battle of Iwo Jima during World War II; 241 servicemen and women were killed and many others were wounded.

The servicemen and women serving in Beirut who were killed had been sent to serve as peacekeepers during the 15-year civil war in Lebanon. Throughout the time U.S. forces were in Lebanon, there were many instances in which American lives were lost. In April of 1983, a similar suicide bombing occurred at the United States Embassy killing 60 people, predominantly embassy staff and U.S. Marines. President Reagan called this act ``a vicious terrorist bombing'' and reiterated the United States' commitment to peace in the region. As a Nation, we would not let such actions deter us from our goal.

The fight against terrorism still continues today. Brave members of the Armed Forces risk their lives every day in an effort to bring an end to such attacks. While we take this time to honor those who were killed in Beirut, we also rededicate our country to the fight against terrorism. It is our hope that such despicable acts can be prevented, not only just in Lebanon but also in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and throughout the rest of the world. Progress has been made in Lebanon and progress towards peace will continue throughout the region.

Today the Members of the House of Representatives and the rest of the Nation join the families of these 241 fallen servicemembers to mourn their loss. We remember the courage of these Marines and other servicemembers who willingly put their lives on the line in order to serve their country and promote peace and security throughout the world. Our heartfelt prayers and sympathies go out to these families. Nearly 25 years after this terrible tragedy, we remember these brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.

During the 14 years that I have had the privilege of serving in the House of Representatives, I have made 13 trips to Lebanon. During the first time that I went there, there was a travel ban: the airport was closed, people were restricted from traveling. We've made great progress in the last 14 years. Great progress.

A great deal of the credit really goes to the people and the leadership of the country but also to President Bush and Secretary Rice for taking a great deal of interest in this country and not being dissuaded by terrorist attacks and not being dissuaded by those who would have our men and women in harm's way. They have helped rebuild the country both politically and economically.

One of the saddest events that took place in the country 2 years ago was the assassination of the then Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. There is an investigation going on in that. He was a true leader in the country. Since that time, there has continued to be progress being made in the country.

As a matter of fact, President Bush will welcome the President of Lebanon tomorrow at the White House, the first time in the memory of many that the President of Lebanon will be coming to the United States and actually having a visit with President Bush and the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. This is an extraordinary event for the country of Lebanon, for the people of Lebanon, for those of us in this country who have worked very hard to develop the kind of relationship with their government and our government. We're delighted that the new President of Lebanon will be visiting Washington and visiting President Bush.

We've made progress, and we've made that progress through the great sacrifice of our men and women who serve in the Embassy in Lebanon and the men and women who sacrificed their lives during the time of the attack 25 years ago. So it's very fitting today that we not only recognize their families and those but we recognize the fact that our government leaders have reached out to this small country in a way that has enabled us to make great progress.

MOMENT OF SILENCE

Mr. LaHOOD. Mr. Speaker, I wonder if it would be possible as I conclude here if you would allow the House one moment of silence so we could say a quiet prayer for the 200-plus Marines and families who lost their lives.

I ask that the Chair allow for a moment of silence to remember those who lost their lives during the bombing that took place in Lebanon 25 years ago.

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