Beirut Memorial, Jacksonville
This commemoration, designed as a memorial wall, honors the memory of U.S. Marines who were killed on October 23, 1983 by a suicide truck bomber attack in Beirut, Lebanon. The design shows two broken white granite walls, symbolizing the destruction of buildings by the bomb. The two broken walls are separated by the statue of a soldier, dressed in full combat attire with his rifle ready. The wall to the left of the soldier is inscribed with the names of the fallen soldiers and other service personnel who have died as the result of the bombing. The wall also includes the names of three Marine pilots from the Camp Lejeune community who were killed in Grenada. The wall to the right of the soldier is inscribed with the words "They Came in Peace." The memorial includes two additional free-standing plaques set in short red brick foundations. One plaque includes an inscription of the dediction of the memorial; the other contains a commemorative poem written by Robert A. Gannon of Derry, New Hampshire. Flags fly from two tall flag poles in the center of the plaza.
Left wall: THEY CAME IN PEACE
Right wall: [names of the fallen]
Dedication plaque: BEIRUT MEMORIAL / HONORING THE MEN / WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN LEBANON / 1982 - 1984 / MAY WE ALWAYS REMEMBER / THOSE WHO ARE READY / TO PROTECT OUR FREEDOM / * * * / COMMISSIONED BY / THE PEOPLE OF JACKSONVILLE / NORTH CAROLINA / DEDICATED / OCTOBER 23, 1986
Commemorative poem plaque:
Left text: It does not stand in Washington / By others of its kind / In prominence and dignity / With mission clear defined. / It does not list the men who died / That tyranny should cease / But speaks in silent eloquence / Of those who came in peace. / This Other Wall is solemn white / And cut in simple lines / And it nestles in the splendor / Of the Carolina pines. / And on this wall there are the names / Of men who once had gone / In friendship’s name to offer aid / To Beirut, Lebanon. / They did not go as conquerors / To bring a nation down / Or for honor or for glory
Right text: Or for praises or renown. / When they landed on that foreign shore / Their only thought in mind / Was the safety of its people / And the good of all mankind. / Though they offered only friendship / And freedom’s holy breath / They were met with scorn and mockery / And violence and death. / So the story of their glory / Is not of battles fought / But of their love of freedom / Which was so dearly bought. / And their wall shall stand forever / So long as freedom shines / On the splendor and the glory / Of the Carolina pines. / R.A. Gannon
Lejeune Memorial Gardens
October 23, 1986
34.747640 , -77.414430 View in Geobrowse
"Beirut Memorial - Jacksonville, NC," Waymarking.com, (accessed April 4, 2013) Link
"Beirut Memorial, (sculpture)," Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian American Art Museum, SIRIS, sirismm.si.edu, #IAS 71500628, (accessed April 4, 2013) Link
Perez, Jacqueline M. [Lance Cpl.]. "Beirut Memorial Observance Ceremony set to remember lost," The Globe (Jacksonville, NC), October 18, 2012, (accessed April 2, 2013) Link
Scott W. Whiting [Lance Cpl.]. "October 29, 2012," Camp LeJeune Photos, The Official Website of the United States Marines, (accessed April 2, 2013) Link
Georgia white granite, North Carolina brick, bronze
City of Jacksonville Beautification and Appearance Commission and the civilian population of Jacksonville
The completed project had a final cost of $271,000. Godwin, the sculptor of the statue, received $60,000 of this total.
The memorial walls were dedicated on October 23, 1986 with approximately 2,000 attending. Two years later on October 22, 1988, the bronze statue was dedicated, five years after the bombing. And in 1991 the poem by Robert A. Gannon, inscribed on the bronze plaque in the plaza, was dedicated at a ceremony observing the anniversary of the tragedy.
The memorial honors the memory of those U.S. military personnel who lost their lives in the U.S. peacekeeping mission in Lebanon which began in 1982. On October 23, 1983, the 1st Battalion of the 8th Marines barracks at the headquarters in Beirut was attacked by a suicide truck bomber. Two hundred forty-one were killed in the blast and collapse of buildings. The total loss of lives of 273 persons whose names appear on the memorial include additional individuals who have subsequently died from their injuries and three Marine pilots who were killed in Grenada.
The sculptor, North Carolina native Abbe Godwin, has been recognized nationally for her work. Other sculptures by Godwin include Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Corpsmen Memorial, and Martin Luther King, Jr. statue.
The memorial is located in Lejeune Memorial Gardens. This triangle shaped park is formed with Montford Landing Road on one side, Lejeune Blvd. (Hwy. 24) on another and U.S. Highway 17 on the third side. The plaza is located just to the northwest of the Onslow County Vietnam Memorial and the 9/11 World Trade Center Beam Memorial. The Montford Point Marine Memorial (dedicated on July 29, 2016) is located nearby in the Gardens.
The plaza, made of North Carolina red brick, sits in a wooded area with shade provided by mature trees. The interior of the plaza is shaped by low beds with perennial plantings.
The memorial has become the site of annual services to commemorate the tragedy. In a ceremony on October 23, 2012, wreaths were laid in a service honoring those who died in Beirut and those lost in training accidents.
The movement to build a memorial to the tragedy began with an effort in the Jacksonville civilian community to create a memorial tree program in the immediate aftermath of the bomging. The City of Jacksonville Beautification and Appearance Commission became the official organizing entity, supported and encouraged by broad support from the community. The effort evolved over time into the plaza with the wall, sculpture, and memorial plaques. School children and other groups contributed to raising funds for the monumental project. Camp Lejeune provided 4.5 acres of land for the site.