The NC Department of Transportation and the City of Jacksonville are working together to improve the Beirut Memorial Grove, which honors those who lost their lives after terrorists bombed the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, on October 23, 1983.
In October 2013, NCDOT planted a tree for each Marine, sailor and soldier who died as a result of the attack 30 years earlier. The decision to create the grove was made in tandem with the City of Jacksonville.
Some of the trees had difficulty adapting to the area’s environment, prompting NCDOT to take proactive steps to exchange the trees. The trees comprising the grove, located at the intersection of US 17 South and NC 24, will be removed and replaced by other trees.
NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata has made a strong statement indicating the Department is committed to honoring those who died as a result of the blast. “We’ll continue working with our partners to ensure the trees will stand tall just as the Marines did through their service,” said NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata.
Tata spoke at the 30th Anniversary of the Beirut Bomb Blast last October 23, meeting with many of the families who treasure the original memorial tree project created by Jacksonville residents and others in 1983. The project was so successful, that it launched the building of the Beirut Memorial where the annual observances are held.
“The Beirut Memorial group understands there is a problem, and that NCDOT and the City will work for a long term solution,” said Abe Rosen, chairman of the Beirut Memorial Advisory Committee. “We want a fitting replacement for the memorial trees along Lejeune Boulevard.”
The City and NCDOT collaborated on the project design and location, with the City involving advisory groups such as the Beirut Memorial Advisory Committee, the former Beautification and Appearance Commission and the current Environmental & Appearance Advisory Committee. The final decision to create the Grove was made by the Jacksonville City Council. All will be a part of a review before the project launches again. NCDOT will remove the trees from the site soon and evaluate the options for the long term viability of the Memorial Grove.
The Beirut Memorial Grove was created to replace the Lejeune Boulevard trees planted in 1983 as a memorial to those who died as a result of the Beirut blast. Many of the Bradford Pear trees along Lejeune Boulevard have been heavily damaged by storms, vehicle accidents and construction. The species normally only lives 20-25 years, and when more trees needed to be moved for construction of the Wilson Gate, NCDOT and the City of Jacksonville agreed to the concept of a grove for all 273 trees to be planted in one place across from Camp Geiger where most of those lost had been stationed prior to their service in Beirut.
Jacksonville City Manager Richard Woodruff said the City is pleased that NCDOT will take the time necessary to evaluate the issues and work for a permanent solution rather than for an intermediate solution. "We understand issues like this can be unexpected," said Dr. Woodruff. "I'm fully confident in the ability of NCDOT to make this right."
City of Jacksonville - Glenn Hargett 910 938-5220
NCDOT - Brian R Rick 910 358-6362