RALEIGH, N.C. - A grove of 273 Autumn Flowering Cherry Trees will be planted in Jacksonville to honor the 273 service members killed in the Beirut bombing in 1983.
The N.C. Department of Transportation is partnering with the City of Jacksonville and the Beirut Memorial Advisory Board to create the Beirut Memorial Grove.
READ:Recalling the Deadly 1983 Attack on The Marine Barracks
"NCDOT is honored to play a part in creating a permanent home for the trees that memorialize the precious lives lost and pay tribute to the many community efforts to remember the service and sacrifice of these brave individuals and their families," Transportation Secretary Tony Tata said.
"These Marines deserve to have a memorial in their honor that stands tall just as they did 30 years ago."
Secretary Tata, a retired U.S. Army Brigadier General, spoke at the 30th annual Beirut Memorial Observance Ceremony held at the Beirut Memorial
Site in the Camp Lejeune Memorial Gardens.
The original Beirut Memorial Bradford Pear Trees were planted along Lejeune Boulevard in the 1980s through a program established by the City's Beautification and Appearance Commission. Many of those trees were damaged or relocated over time.
The site selected for the memorial grove is a triangular, 12-acre plot within the U.S. 17/N.C. 24/U.S. 258 interchange near Camp Geiger.
NCDOT is constructing the site and the City of Jacksonville will be responsible for maintaining it. The project cost to NCDOT is $700,000 and it is being funded through money allocated for landscaping on the Jacksonville Bypass project.
Work began on the site last week and the new trees are expected to be blooming at the time of next year's ceremony.
WFMY News 2, NCDOT