Current Commentary

Veterans Take
Guest Editor
Curtis Hendel


Terror’s Anniversary

As anniversary years go, 2003 and a 20-year anniversary probably don’t strike a chord with most people, but with some the memories are strong and painful. George W. Bush declared War on Terror shortly after the September 11th attacks. But when did the terrorists really declare war on us? Or course, the answer is 20 years ago, in 1983.

In the summer of 1982 the Lebanese government had requested that the United States help to establish a peacekeeping force in their country. Moslems and Christians were fighting each other in a religious spat that has since become a calling card worldwide. On March 24th, 1983, the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, received orders to Beirut and joined French and Italian forces on the mission. The Moslems perceived the Marines as enemies.

Terror first struck on April 18th, 1983 as a van loaded with 2,000 pounds of explosives drove to the front of the U.S. embassy in Beirut and detonated. The explosion and subsequent collapse of part of the 7-story building killed 63 people, 17 whom were Americans, including the entire CIA Middle East contingent.

The first attack seen as a major terrorist attack on the United States happened on October 23rd of that year. A truck loaded with explosives was driven to the First Battalion, 8th Marines Headquarters building and detonated. The building was destroyed along with the lives of 241 Marines, Soldiers, and Sailors. The country was stunned.

This was the beginning. Then there was the bombing of a Disco in Berlin that was a known hangout for American soldiers in 1986. In 1993, the World Trade Center was hit the first time, killing six and wounding thousands when a car bomb detonated in the parking garage. U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya were bombed simultaneously killing 200, including 12 American citizens. A bomb hidden in a tugboat hit the U.S.S. Cole, killing 17 sailors in October 2000. Then there was the longest day, September 11th, 2001. One thing you notice is that the attacks kept getting more frequent and brazen.

Yeah, we have been getting attacked for some time now. Those who hate us for who we are had been winning handily. Up until now, our responses had been more of an eye for and eye, just a return strike to try to slow them down. Now the score is being settled. Those we are at war with would love to blow you and your children up to terrorize your friends. That is their style or warfare. Now they are learning ours.

In a style similar to that of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the terrorists opened our eyes to the real dangers of the world and woke the sleeping giant. As our forces carry out the battle plans and more time passes since the last attack, we must all realize that our actions are for our protection and the protection of our children’s futures. This is far from over, and our servicemen and women will need our continued support.

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