Students honor lives lost in Beirut Bombing

JACKSONVILLE, NC (WITN) - Students in Jacksonville are honoring hundreds of U.S. service personnel as the community prepares to observe the anniversary of what historians now call the opening act in the war on terror.

Next Wednesday marks the 36th anniversary of the Beirut Bombing.

In Jacksonville Wednesday, students from the Northwoods Park Middle School Beta Club placed yellow ribbons on each of the 273 trees planted at the Beirut Memorial Grove.

On the day after the bombing in 1983, students from Northwoods Park auctioned off a Cabbage Patch doll to help raise funds to plant a tree for each of the 273 individuals who perished in the attack.

The ribbons were assembled Monday after a presentation on the history of the attack.

Beta Club President Nora Deselms said, "The people that came here and served for us and gave their lives for us. They did that so that we could have peace here and freedom. And we need to all remember that and be thankful."

An observance will be held next Wednesday to honor the families of those who died, and the veterans who survived.

"It memorializes. It lets us know that their lives weren't lost in vain. It makes some people that aren't familiar ask questions, 'hey what are the ribbons for?' It keeps their memory alive, and that's what we need to do. We need to keep their memories alive," said Jacksonville Police Lt. Sean Magill.

The Beirut Memorial in Jacksonville is the largest military memorial in the United States paid for solely by private funds.