ARLINGTON, Va. --
To honor the American service members who died during the Lebanese Civil War, veterans and Gold Star family members lobbied the United States Postal Service and Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee to issue a Beirut commemorative postage stamp for more than 20 years.
The stamp initiative started in 1986 when a group of Gold Star family members visited the nation’s capitol. When petitioning the United States Postal Service and Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee failed to yield results after 24 years, Beirut veterans tried third party vendor zazzle.com. This led to the creation of www.beirutstamp.com.
“I felt relieved that we made a breakthrough,” said Beirut veteran Leslie Kameck. “I’d love to see more stamps and I already plan on getting more.”
Since its July 15 release, more than 50 stamp sheets have been sold. Additionally, 90 cents from the sale of each sheet goes toward the Gold Star Mothers National Memorial Foundation.
"Not only are the purchases supporting the morale of the Beirut veterans and the families of the fallen, they also financially help Gold Star Mothers," said Bill Kibler, one of the Beirut veterans who headed the stamp initiative.
Gold Star Mothers National Memorial Foundation Chairwoman Judith Young said the organization’s efforts are aimed at continuing a tradition that has affected thousands of mothers throughout history.
“Our goal is to recognize an ongoing tradition and over 600,000 gold star mothers,” Young said. “Last year we raised $18,000 and hope to do better next year.”
At approximately 6:22 a.m., on Oct. 23, 1983, a blast catalyzed by six tons of explosives tore through the Marine Corps Headquarters building in Beirut, Lebanon. The blast, equivalent to the force of 20,000 lbs. of TNT, destroyed the barracks and killed 241 service members, 220 of which were Marines, along with 18 sailors and three soldiers.
Kibler said the Marine presence in Lebanon was one of good will. As part of a multi-national peacekeeping force, the Marines worked to quell the violence and halt atrocities. This is the validation behind the phrase “they came in peace,” which is inscribed on the Beirut War Memorial and the six commemorative stamps.
“To have this stamp out there recognizes their sacrifice so they may hold their heads up high, if they aren’t already,” Kibler said.