This past April 26, 2019, fifty Dutch UNIFIL Veterans attended a ceremony at the US Embassy in Beirut. The two Dutch UNIFIL persons who laid the wreath at the monument, Jan Holwerda and Freerk Mossel, were stationed in Beirut at the moment of the bombing and witnessed the aftermath.
Included are some words from Chris Laarhoven the Chairman of Foundation Reunion with Lebanon:
Since 2005 the foundation “Weerzien met Libanon” (Reunion with Lebanon) organizes return trips to see what has become of ‘our’ former area of deployment, to meet old and new local friends and to commemorate our fallen comrades together with local authorities, our Embassy, the Dutch Defense Force, and UNIFIL.
Three years ago it came to my mind to not only commemorate our fallen servicemen, but also to commemorate our US, French, British, and Italian comrades because we served the same cause in different named missions but with the same goal.
After mailing Myron Kyle, who was of great help, I joined your impressive commemoration in Jacksonville and met some great people in Philadelphia.
Since then we started to commemorate our fallen comrade servicemen of the US and the French at their monuments on the premises of the Embassy’s.
We are now trying to get in contact with the British and the Italian who served in the Multi-National Force.
We are also looking forward to meeting you again at your annual commemoration in Jacksonville with a few of our board members, and in the future to have a few of the Beirut Veterans attend our National Veterans Day in The Hague.
- Chris Laarhoven
To see the letter from Mr. Laarhoven to the Ambassador please follow the link to the Reunion with Lebanon website:
Attached is the speech given by Chaplain Bart Hetebrij
For some, Memorial Day is just a day off work, a day for cookouts, and the start of summer. For Gold Star Families and friends of those lost serving our great country, it has a whole different meaning.
Memorial Day takes place every year on the last Monday of May and is a day to remember and honor those who died while serving in the US military.
In early May of 1868 General John A. Logan called for a nationwide day of remembrance. On May 30, 1868, that day of remembrance happened, and it was called Decoration Day. On that first Decoration Day General James Garfield spoke at Arlington National Cemetery saying:
“We do not know one promise these men made, only one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and make immortal their patriotism and their virtue”. James Garfield (as cited Arizona PBS, n.d.)
Observation day eventually became known as Memorial Day and continued to be celebrated on May 30 every year until 1968, when Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act which moved Memorial Day to the last Monday of May.
For Gold Star Families and Beirut Veterans, this Memorial Day is like every other day as we remember those who we so dearly loved and lost on October 23, 1983. Each of us has been impacted by that moment in time and carry that impact with us. Our First Duty is to Remember. This Memorial Day (and throughout the year) remind people about the Beirut Bombing, remind them about the lives lost, and remind them that we must never forget.
God Bless and Semper Fi!
Arizona PBS. (n.d.) The history of Memorial Day. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/national-memorial-day-concert/memorial-day/history/
The Semper Fi Society in Jacksonville, FL is building a Beirut Memorial In Evergreen Cemetery. Folllow the link for more information.