Thirty years ago this week I was trying to enlist in the United States Navy. I’d graduated college and finished the 999th interview with a corporation that wanted me to do some really rotten job that held as much interest as – well, you get the picture. Anyway, the Navy had what I wanted – I wanted to be a Cryptologic Technician. The Navy? Not so much. After all, who needs some clown that speaks Arabic.
The October 23rd bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut changed the picture. The morning after the bombing a recruiter I’d been working with called me and said, “So, let me get this right, you speak Arabic?” Yes. And the race was on to get me in and get me enlisted. I’d gone from a candidate of no interest to the hottest commodity in the universe in the span of 24 hours.
The reason for their disdain was simple: The Soviets were the main threat. Arabs and Arabic were a sideshow at best. I didn’t want to take Russian so they wouldn’t take me and send me through the schools. When the Marines were killed that all changed.
The blasts (the French were hit the same day, 10 minutes later) were among the first really big terror attacks against the west by Iranian suicide bombers and their cousins from the factions in Lebanon. There is a strong debate to this day about the merits and wisdom of putting Marines in the midst of the Lebanese Civil War, but that is not the point of today’s blog.
Today I ask you to pray for our military around the world. Offer up a prayer for the victims of Beirut. And remember those who not only gave their lives that day but survived the blast. I had the honor of serving with some of the survivors. Fine men. Brave men. Men who wanted payback for their Marine brothers who died in the blast. I understand. I think many of you will as well.
But today, simply pray.