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Rising to remember: Ground broken for Beirut Peacekeepers Memorial Tower in Port Charlotte

Andrea Melendez
A large banner with the image of the monument hangs as the site is set up for the groundbreaking. At the age of 21, William “Bill” R. Gaines, Jr., of Charlotte County was one of 22 Floridians and one of 241 members of the U.S. Peacekeeping troops that died in a suicide bombing of Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, almost 40 years ago. A groundbreaking was held, Wednesday morning, March 15, 2023, for the Beirut Peacekeepers Memorial Tower. The structure will be erected at William R. Gaines, Jr., Veterans Memorial Park, and will memorialize the Americans who died that day and honor all the Peacekeepers who served in Beirut in 1982-1984.

Ground was broken Wednesday in Charlotte County for the Beirut Peacekeepers Tower at the William R. Gaines Jr. Veterans Memorial Park.

The tower will memorialize the 241 Americans killed 40 years ago in the Oct. 23, 1983, bombing of the U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, during the Lebanese Civil War. Twenty-two of those who died were from Florida.

In 2022 a bill was passed by the Florida legislature for a $2 million matching grant to help fund the project. The Beirut Peacekeepers Tower is part of a public-private funding partnership developed to tell a story of the American spirit, of service and sacrifice for the freedom of others.


There were over 10,000 American veterans who served in Beirut from 1982-84 as part of a multinational peacekeeping force that included French, Italian, and British troops. By the time the American forces departed over 270 Americans from 38 states and territories lost their lives.

The park where the tower will rise is named after William R. Gaines Jr., a Marine from Charlotte County who was among the 241 killed on Oct. 23. It is also dedicated to veterans and first responders, highlighting the connection they have in protecting U.S. freedom.

The tower design is intended to be an educational experience to inspire visitors to climb or ride an elevator to each of the three levels to learn the full history of the role the Beirut Peacekeepers played in Lebanon.
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