It was early in the morning thirty years ago, on October 23, 1983. Two trucks laden with high explosives drove into separate buildings and exploded with a combined force of more than 20,000 pounds of TNT. The first was detonated in the lobby of the barracks housing U.S. military personnel (most of them Marines). The second blew up just outside the French barracks.
In both cases, the buildings collapsed. 241 U.S. Servicemen were killed that day, and 58 French paratroopers died in the second blast. Since then, an additional twenty-nine military personnel have died as a result of their injuries.
Although not the first terrorist attack against U.S. interests, it was by far the most significant and deadly up to that point. The U.S. has been at war with terrorists ever since.
A beautiful memorial now sits on the grounds of Camp Lejeune, honoring those who died serving their country. Innocent victims – peacekeepers – who died because they represented a nation founded on the principles of personal liberty and human dignity. They are our heroes this week, and forever.