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Beirut Memorial moving to veterans park

Often overlooked marker sits near Presidents Park

DIXON – A little-known memorial along the Riverfront will have a new home this fall.

The memorial honoring the 241 Americans who died in the Beirut barracks bombing on Oct. 23, 1983, during the Lebanese Civil War, is moving to Veterans Memorial Park.

The memorial is between the Galena and Peoria avenue bridges, nestled behind a bush and facing the Rock River, not the walking path, which makes it difficult to find.

So much so that Rich Sanders, who is leading the effort to give it more prominence, said most Dixon residents don’t know it’s there.

“The location is not too good behind the bushes,” Sanders said of the marker just south of the Lincoln statue and Old Settlers’ Cabin in Presidents Park.

“While the site on the river bank is serene, we want to move it to a place where it will gain more visibility, where it can be seen,” he said. “Also, it’s kind of hard to access, and there are limitations walking down the hill there.”

The move will occur this fall with a ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park commemorating the 30th anniversary of the bombing.

The memorial, dedicated by the Dixon Park District and radio station WSDR, has a plaque that says it honors those who died “in the cause of peace in Beirut, Lebanon Oct. 23, 1983.”

On that day, two truck bombs struck separate buildings housing U.S. and French armed forces.

Sanders doesn’t know the origins of the memorial, and the Dixon Park District can’t find a date of its dedication. No one from Dixon died in the bombing, nor is there any known connection with a Dixon resident.

A Polo resident, Gerald Ludwig, spoke at a ceremony on the 25th anniversary. He was 23 in 1983, out on patrol the morning of the bombing.

“There are quite a few people who visit the Veterans Memorial Park, and that seems like a better fit for the memorial,” Sanders said.

“We don’t want it to be forgotten.”

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