| President Ronald Reagan
Baptist Fundamentalism '84 Convention
Washington, DC Convention Center
April 12, 1984
|Rabbi Arnold E. Resnicoff was present in Beirut, Lebanon, October 23, 1983, at the time of the suicide truck bomb attack.
Then serving as one of the Sixth Fleet Chaplains, attached to the staff of Commander Sixth Fleet, onboard the flagship USS Puget Sound, in Gaeta, Italy, Rabbi Resnicoff was a frequent visitor to the Marines in Beirut. He flew to the Marine compound on Friday, October 21, 1983, to lead a memorial service for Allen Soifert, a young Marine from New Hampshire killed by sniper fire.
When the Marines offered to fly him back to Italy on Saturday, he explained that--unless life was in danger--he did not travel on the Jewish Sabbath (sunset Friday through sunset Saturday), and would therefore wait until Sunday. At 6:20 A.M. that Sunday, Oct 23, 1983, the suicide truck bomb attack occurred, ultimately taking the lives of 241 American military personnel, and severely wounding many more.
Four days following the attack, then-Vice President George Bush led the White House team that visited the site. The Vice President requested that Rabbi Resnicoff write a report of the attack and the rescue effort, from his point of view as a Chaplain, and send it directly to the White House.
In April 1984, when President Reagan delivered the keynote address to the Baptist Fundamentalism '84 convention led by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, he told the attendees that he was going to do something that he had "never done before." He was "going to read another man's words" -- the report from Beirut that he had received from Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff.
During the President's remarks, a small group led a brief pre-planned demonstration, with chants and banners, "Bread Not Bombs." The video clip is unedited, and includes this demonstration. It is a poignant reminder of President Reagan at the height of his strength, as he handles the hecklers with dignity and power, and reminds us all of his respect for the courage of our military personnel. "Wouldn't it be nice," he said, "if a little bit of that Marine spirit would rub off, and they would listen about brotherly love?"
|View the text of the original report.
View the text and video of the Presidential speech, click here.