Far too many make the ultimate sacrifice in defending us.
Last year we paid tribute to the memory of Virgil Peterson from 'The Bob Newhart Show'. "The Hostile Mouse" had been a Marine at Iwo Jima and had been portrayed by John Fielder, who passed away earlier in 2005.
This year, we honor two veterans who are still with us, on TV every week:
Leroy Jethro Gibbs
Both of them had been in the Marines back in the early 1980s and served together in Beirut, Lebanon.
Of course, when I say they served together, that doesn't necessarily mean that they knew each other. There was a large contingent of Marines there in Beirut, hoping to maintain some semblance of peace in Lebanon.
Unfortunately, it all came crashing down on their heads, literally, as they slept.....
The 1983 Beirut barracks bombing was a major incident during the Lebanese Civil War. Two truck bombs struck buildings in Beirut housing U.S. and French members of the Multinational Force in Lebanon, killing hundreds of soldiers, the majority being U.S. Marines. The October 23, 1983, blasts led to the withdrawal of the international peacekeeping force from Lebanon, where they had been stationed since the Israeli invasion in 1982.
The death toll was 241 American servicemen: 220 Marines, 18 Navy personnel and 3 Army soldiers. Sixty Americans were injured.
To read the full story, go here.
In their respective jobs, Mac and Gibbs try not to dwell on the past, but there are times when they are forced to confront that history in their lines of work - Mac as a forensics criminologist for the NYPD, and Gibbs as an investigator for the Navy's equivalent department.
Just last year, Mac had to track down a fellow survivor of the attack who was blowing up buildings to prove that America was not yet safe from more attacks. This dredged up memories he thought long buried.
It's not like he wanted to forget; it's just that he was saddled with additional sorrows because his wife perished in the collapse of the Twin Towers.
All in all, I'm sure Mac and Gibbs would say that they were the lucky ones. They survived.
But for Toobworld, they remain the faces to stand in for their fallen comrades, the 241 Marines who didn't survive the attack.
And hopefully, with the presence of Mac and Gibbs on our TV screens each week, we won't be thinking of those other 241 Marines only on Veterans' Day and Memorial Day, but instead throughout the TV season......
Here are some other sites to visit on this topic:
The Beirut Memorial Online
Arlington Cemetery Remembrance
Beirut Veterans Info
"Did I miss someone in his unit?"
Leroy Jethro Gibbs:
"No, all Marines are deceased."
"They look alive."