On April 18, 1983, a vehicle carrying two-thousand pounds of explosives crashed into the main entrance of the United States Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. Over sixty people, including seventeen Americans and thirty-five Lebanese working at the Embassy, were killed. Approximately one-hundred-twenty others were injured.
At a commemorative ceremony at the U.S. State Department, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, paid tribute to those who died and those who survived that tragic day:
“Our fellow citizens, many of whom are here today, stepped in do the work that should never be asked of anyone, but they did it nonetheless, pulling colleagues from the destruction, tending to the wounded, identifying the victims. People made calls to the families of friends that no one is ever prepared to make. And it was all done while remaining vigilantly at post.”
Terrorists struck again October 23, 1983 with bomb attacks on barracks housing the U.S. and French members of the Multinational Force in Lebanon. Two-hundred-forty-one American servicemen and fifty-eight French soldiers were killed. Seventy-five others were wounded. On September 20, 1984, nine U.S. embassy staffers were killed and many other persons were injured in an attack on a U.S. embassy annex.
Secretary of State Rice said terrorists have not shaken U.S. resolve:
“Shortly after the 1983 Embassy attack President [Ronald] Reagan said, ‘This criminal attack on a diplomatic establishment will not deter us from our goals of peace in the region. We will do what we know to be right.’ Twenty-five years later, those words ring true for the thousands of men and women who serve in our posts across the globe and especially in the Middle East.”
Dr. Rice said the people of Lebanon and their leaders, including murdered prime minister Rafik Hariri, have suffered for too long from wars, terrorism, and political violence:
“This should be an unacceptable situation to all nations and it is certainly unacceptable to the United States. We remain fully committed to the people of Lebanon. We fully support their desire for a sovereign, democratic, and prosperous nation.”
Secretary of State Rice said, “the men and women who we lost in Lebanon twenty-five years ago were united in life by a common goal: to make this world safer and better for all Americans and for all freedom-loving people. Working every day for that goal is now the urgent calling that leads us forward.”