Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Did Libyan Artifacts Survive the Revolution?



When the strategic coastal port of Alexandria, Egypt was conquered, its vast library and a one of the wonders of the ancient world was burned by Julius Caesar, effectively destroying the combined knowledge of the world up to that time.

In many cases, the victors try to erase any trace of the previous rulers.

That doesn’t seem to be the case in Libya, where the seven month old revolution seems intent on preserving the key elements of its society – the oil industry infrastructure, the ancient historic sites and the records and evidence of crimes committed by the Gadhafi regime. While on oil terminal was set afire by an errant rocket, it doesn't appear there is major damage to the oil facilities in the country.

In that regard, most of the American artifacts at Tripoli are also relatively safe, at least from the ravages of the revolution – including the national museum at the old castle fort, the Old Protestant Cemetery, where remains of five of the men of the USS Intrepid are buried, and Martyr’s Square, where eight Intrepid men remain buried under a parking lot.

Then there are the Tripoli harbor sites of the wrecks of both the ketch Intrepid and the frigate Philadelphia, both of which have reportedly been covered over with cement by the Libyans, which will act to preserve them.

Other than the fort and the square, the historic artifacts in Tripoli that are of interest to Americans are only a few hundred years old, which to the Libyans is like yesterday, as their history dates back four thousand years and through multiple eras and civilizations – Cartridge, Rome, Ottoman, Karamanli Dynasty, Italian Colonial, a monarchy and the Gadhafi regime.

In a scene from the movie Patton, George C. Scott as Patton, drives to some ancient ruins along Libya’s coast and reflects on the battles that were fought there over the same land. And many of his soldiers are buried at the American cemetery at Tunis, administered by the American Battlefield Monument Commissions (ABMC), which is located a few miles from where the current revolution started. It appears to remain secure and undamaged.

Patton’s chief rival, German Gen. Erwin Rommell came to North Africa at Tripoli Harbor, and can be seen in photos plotting strategy over a table set up outdoors. There are also photos of British troops at the square, the old castle fort and the ubiquitous pillars, all having survived the war.

The oldest art found in South Libya are the pre-historic petrographs of hunting scenes, some still being uncovered by the shifting desert sands, while Pre-Roman Cartridge ruins and the best examples of Roman cities can be found along the Libyan coast – incredible inlaid tile baths and theaters in the round that overlook the sea.

At the beginning of the recent turmoil there was a lot of concern that the battles would spill into the historic arena, or the victor or the vanquished would destroy everything in their wake.

Just as the Taliban destroyed ancient Buddas just because they didn’t understand them, and the rampant looting of the museum at Baghdad that took place during the invasion of Iraq, the Cairo Museum in Egypt was saved from looters during the revolution by people who linked arms and created a human fence around the building. But not before some vandals got in and destroyed some irreplaceable statues.

In Libya it seems like both sides studiously avoided the destruction of the infrastructure – oil processing plants and ancient ruins, both of which were extremely vulnerable to the violence of war. They turned off the internet but didn’t destroy it, and while Gadhafi Loyalists took refuge at ancient ruins and historic sites, knowing the NATO wouldn’t attack them there, the primary sites – appear to have survived relatively intact.

While the rebels seem to have been well trained and directed not to enter homes unless they were fired upon, once the defenders at Gadafhi’s home and compound were defeated, the area was thoroughly looted by the rebels and the local civilians.

Other historic sites appear to have been saved and secured, including the national museum at the Old Castle Fort, Green/Martyr’s Square and the Old Protestant Cemetery. It would also be nice to know the status of the airport, the golf course there, and the Marriot Hotel, a $36 million American hotel that opened the week before the revolution began in February.

There were reports that Loyalist snipers were firing from the roof of the Marriott on August 22, and the rebels returned fire. Another report indicated that rebels "with British passports" set fire to the hotel that day.

But SD, on the scene at the moment, asked about the condition of the Marriott hotel, reports, "Hi Bill. No it is fine. I can see it from here right now. no damage at
all as far as we know of course it has been closed since Feb and I havent been inside but
nothing obvious."

The national museum, besides holding ancient Roman art and artifacts, also has the Volkswagon bug that Gadhafi drove into Tripoli during the September 1969 coup.

The head of the national museum – the Director of Antiquities Dr. Guima Ang, left his post a year or so before the revolution, possibly over differences with the Gadhafi regime over the construction at ancient historic sites.

It is paramount that the new Director of Antiquities, whoever it is, be seriously responsible for the protection of historic sites, including the museum, Martyr’s Square, Old Protestant Cemetery and the ancient historic sites throughout Libya.

Simon Denyer, the Washington Post reporter in Tripoli, says that he drives past the Old Protestant Cemetery every day, and it remains locked and secure.

Tripoli, Libya

'Now we have to hurry to do everything we want. Everyone from his place. Me, from this museum." Fatheia al Howasi, the director of Libya's National Museum since 2007, is soft-spoken, determined, and refreshingly honest in her serviceable English. She is also eager to get to work bringing the museum up to international standards and reopening it to the Libyan public—it has been closed since the revolution started in Benghazi on Feb. 17.

Though the capital grows calmer every day, life is far from normal; armed men are ubiquitous and there is a serious shortage of cash. On Sunday, Ms. Howasi led me on an all-too-brief tour of the five-story structure, built in 1988 with Unesco help inside Tripoli's 17th-century Saraya al Hamra, or Red Palace.

A 1984 graduate of Benghazi's Garyounis University who has spent her entire career in Tripoli's Department of Antiquities, Ms. Howasi tells the recent history of the museum without drama. While the museum was closed, she visited every day and her staff of 70 looked after the physical plant. When Moammar Gadhafi fled Tripoli on Aug. 19 and the uprising began, Ms. Howasi and the staff hid "some important small pieces"—a half-dozen glass display cases are still empty—but otherwise took no extraordinary measures.

Soon, revolutionary fighters from the Nafusa Mountains and nearby Zawiyah poured into Tripoli. (One of the major brigades that entered Tripoli hails from Zintan, Ms. Howasi's hometown.)

"Some thuwar [revolutionaries] came into the museum," she says, but they damaged only the exhibits in the six galleries devoted to Gadhafi and smashed the windows of two of Gadhafi's cars that are incongruously exhibited among Roman artifacts in one of the main galleries on the ground floor.

(One is a lime-green Volkswagen Beetle from the 1960s.) Upstairs, the area that once held Gadhafi mementos is now empty. When I expressed the hope that the history of the Gadhafi period would not be lost to the next generation of Libyans, Ms. Howasi quickly agreed: "These things are for another time, but we need to remember and correct."

Ms. Howasi says that the Gadhafi exhibits were the extent of the regime's interference with the museum's exhibition contents, though she also admits that the reason so few of the Arabic signs are translated into English is that the museum "was not allowed to write by English" during one period when Gadhafi burned foreign-language textbooks and forbade the teaching of foreign languages in schools. When he changed his mind in recent years, "somebody start and stop, somebody start and stop." This, too, is typically Libyan: There is a sort of national attention-deficit disorder, perhaps the result of 42 years under a madly capricious ruler. When I visited, Ms. Howasi was unable to find any English guide or catalog to the museum.

While there are no classical pieces of earth-shattering importance—a fair amount of Libya's classical heritage made its way to Italian and other European museums during the Italian occupation—there are vibrant, dynamic mosaics of daily life from the ancient cities of Leptis Magna and Sabratha, many centered around fishing and sea creatures, and important panels from the arch of Septimius Severus at Leptis Magna. The mosaics compare with the best in Tunisia, with tiny fragments that capture light and allow for great naturalism. But the Roman glass on show is mediocre, and even if the empty cases that once held jewelry and other small artifacts were full, they would not compare in extent with the holdings of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, not to mention the Italian museums. The Islamic artifacts are substandard, which probably reflects the fact that Libya was a backwater for most of the postclassical period.

The well-traveled foreign visitor will be most thrilled by the pieces from Libya's indigenous civilizations, mainly unfamiliar to Westerners. There is a fascinating bijou third-century mausoleum and panels of bas reliefs from Ghirza, south of Misrata, whose endearingly naive depictions of animals and foliage show a fusion of local and Greek art. There are also artifacts from the mysterious Garamantian desert empire, thought to be a Berber civilization. Work is still being done on the remote desert sites where these objects were found. The exhibits on Libya's rich prehistoric heritage only hint at its splendor and importance. The vast desert covering most of the country below the Mediterranean coast contains some of the world's finest prehistoric rock art—represented here mainly by photographs and reproductions—along with shards of the indigenous pottery and the 5,400-year-old mummy of a 7-year-old girl found in the Acacus Mountains in 1958.

Libyan cultural and educational institutions usually have a Rip Van Winkle quality, with decades-old signage, little Web presence, and an insular orientation—and the museum is typical. Libyans are not big on maintenance, and many of the light bulbs were out when I visited. But Ms. Howasi is quick to note that most of the improvements she hopes for are cosmetic. In her opinion, the museum does not need a major cash infusion. She did not ask for foreign help. (That is much more necessary to conserve Libya's neglected archaeological treasures, as Saleh Alagab, head of the Department of Antiquities, has noted.) Ms. Howasi's attitude, which is common here, reflects the pride and self-confidence of a people who won their freedom with their own blood. And the fact that the museum's treasures were respected by the revolutionaries is an encouraging sign for Libya's future.

Ms. Marlowe, a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute, blogs at World Affairs.

Friday, August 26, 2011

When We Were Pirates -


“…Richard Somers and the seamen were buried on the beach outside the town near the walls; while the three officers were interred in the same grave, on the plain beyond, or cable’s length to the southward and eastward of the castle.” – James Finemore Cooper

It may seem ironic to some but American navy pirate fighter Richard Somers was the son of a pirate – an American revolutionary privateer whose schooner attacked British merchant ships off the coast of New Jersey. The contents of the prizes were auctioned to the public at Chestnut Neck, once a thriving fishing village. When they had the audacity to advertise their actions in newspapers in Philadelphia and New York, the British admiral called Chestnut Neck “A Nest of Rebel Pirates,” and there is no town of Chestnut Neck today because the British attacked and destroyed it.

Franklin W. Kemp of Linwood, NJ, authored a number of books including A Nest of Rebel Pirates (1966, 181 pages), Firefighting by-the-seashore: A History of the Atlantic City Fire Department (1972 – 658 pages), St. Andrew’s by-the-sea: the History of St. Andrews Evangelical (1970 148 pages) and an unpublished manuscript biography of Richard Somers.

Shortly after Richard Somers was born in 1778, his father, Col. Richard Somers of the Revolutionary militia, commanded the garrison at Chestnut Neck that came under attack by the British fleet on October 1778.

In order to remind later generations of the sacrifice these men made to the cause of the Revolution, a monument was placed in a park on Route 9 in Port Republic, not far from the Garden State Parkway. The Richard Somers Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution is named after the father of the pirate fighter Lt. Richard Somers, who died at Tripoli.

While Franklin Kemp’s books all give valued insight into the regional history of the Jersey Shore, his unpublished manuscript, a lost biography of Richard Somers, is of historical importance. When Kemp was completing his manuscript, the Atlantic Country Historical Society considered publishing it, but instead elected to publish Barbara E. Koedel’s Glory, at Last! A Narrative of the Naval Career of Master Commandant Richard Somers: 1778-1804. (1998)

Unfortunately Kemp’s manuscript went unpublished, though having talked with someone (Richard Henkle) who read it, Kemp had some original and important information that is not included in Koedel’s account or anywhere else.

Kemp had apparently located and corresponded with a former Italian soldier who was part of the 1930 road work crew that discovered the remains of five of the Intrepid sailors, and relocated them to Old Protestant Cemetery. He reportedly described the location of the original grave site in some detail and the procedures used to remove and rebury them at the cemetery. Kemp’s manuscript is probably among his private papers but their whereabouts are unknown.

In any case, these letters from the Italian soldier are now historically significant in regards to identifying the exact location of the original grave site, where eight of the men of the Intrepid remain buried, “one cable’s length” outside the walls of the old castle fort at Martyr’s Square, Tripoli.

A cable length or cable's length is a nautical unit of measure equal to one tenth of a nautical mile or 100 fathoms, or sometimes 120 fathoms. The unit is named after the length of a ship's anchor cable in the age of sail.

:U.S. customary (US Navy): 120 fathoms (720 feet, 219.456 m)

Hope Rises for Return of Heroes of Tripoli

Hope Rises for Return of Bodies of Heroes of Tripoli
By Carlos Sardella
New York Times December 21 1980


A GROUP of New Jerseyans who have been pressuring Washington officials, even the White House, for 18 months to have the bodies of early naval heroes returned from Libya and reinterred in Arlington National Cemetery have been give new hope, according to their most active spokesman.

The bodies are those of 13 men who took part in a United States Navy suicide mission against the Barbary pirates in 1804.

An Irvington insurance agency owner who is spearheading the campaign to bring the remains back says the new hope is centered on the Administration of President Ronald Reagan.

“We certainly have not done well with President Carter or, for that matter, Governor Byrne,” the insurance man, John P. LaCroix, said, “but we have reason to believe we will get some action in 1981.”

Still awaiting action, and supported by New Jersey Representatives, Senators, state legislators and a number of veterans organizations, is a bill introduced by Harold C. Hollenbeack, Republican of East Rutherford, calling for repatriation of the bodies by the Secretary of the Navy from five graves in Tripoli.

Now awaiting action by the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Veterans Affairs, the bill has become a rallying standard for the growing number of New Jersey citizens and national veterans organization leaders. Kenneth Greenberg, a spokesman for Representative Hollenbeck, agrees that some action is probably stirring with the pending change of administrations.

He also said there was growing hope that the repatriation action might be taken without the legislation, the result of “some kind of administration order.”

Mr. Greenberg said Mr. Hollenback’s office was informed by the State Department that there was no foreign policy objection to the bill – Libya is not considered a “friendly” nation – and that the State Department was prepared to “work with the Navy to seek arrangements with the Libyan Government for repatriation.” Further, he said, some information contacts were being made with the Libyan mission in Washington.

The 13 heroes of the Barbary pirate war – there are conflicting reports whether the graves contain the bodies of five or more of the seamen – engaged in what naval historians have called a “incredible mission of heroism.”

Commanded by Capt. Richard Somers, a native of Atlantic County’s Somers Point, which was founded by his grandfather, the men formed the crew of the U.S.S. Intrepid. Laden with dynamite, the craft was intended to become a floating torch to destroy as many enemy ships as possible in the crowded Tripoli harbor. But under cannon fire on Sept. 4, 1804, the Intrepid blew up and all hands were lost.

Just a few days before that, the Intrepid, commanded by Capt. Stephen Decatur, had ventured into Tripoli harbor at night on a successful mission to burn the U.S.S. Philadelphia, a frigate that had been seized by the pirates. A mixed crew, from the U.S.S. Nautilus, the U.S.S. Constitution and the Intrepid volunteered for the ill-starred mission that followed and, as far as is known, Captain Somers ws the only member of the group from New Jersey.

Beyond patriotism, Mr. LaCroix says, it is fear that the graves are being desecrated or are, at best, uncared for.

The attempt to repatriate the bodies began in New Jersey because Patricia Dougherty, a member of the Leonia Borough Council, discovered the cemetery, all but hidden in weeds, while vacationing with a writer friend, Melba Edmunds. They found markers placed on the graves in Tripoli and commemorated by the Navy in ceremonies in 1949.

The description of the site, carried in an American Legion magazine, attracted the attention of Joseph Balsamello, commander of the Leonia American Legion Post.

With hundreds of petitions in hand, he prevailed upon Representative Hollenbeck to introduce the bill. As part of a Memorial Day observance in Leonia, the 13 naval heroes were made honorary citizens of that Bergen Country community.

The Atlantic County Historical Society, based in Somers Point, is the latest organization to join in the effort. A resolution calling upon Representative William J. Hughes, Democrat of Ocean City, has been adopted, according to Mrs. Robert J. Baldwin, president of the society, whose archives contain mementoes and books about the Somers family.

Mr. LaCroix, a Korean veteran and a member of the Navy League, believes that bringing back the bodies will help revive “a suffering Navy tradition” and fit into a resurgence of patriotism.”

Representative Joseph G. Minish, Democrat of West Orange, has been pressing the Secretary of the Navy, W. Graham Clayton, Jr., to recommend immediate action without legislation. Senator Harrison A. Williams, Jr., Democrat of Bedminister, is urging Secretary of State Edmund S. Muskie to take action, “which is important to me, especially in view of the tense relations with Libya.”

Support of the action has been pouring in from many quarters.

Lieut. Gen. C. M. Talbott, chief of staff of the Military Order of the World War, added his endorsement. The American Legion, in its national convention in Boston last August, adopted a supportive resolution.

“We have come this far and we do not intend to let up,” Mr. LaCroix said.

Could U.S. sailors finally be returned home from Libya 200 YEARS after they died in 'To The Shores Of Tripoli' war?

13 sailors died in 1804 after explosives ship blew up

First Barbary War was started over piracy problems

Master Commandant Richard Somers among dead crew

Current uprising gives group chance to ask for return


Last updated at 4:07 PM on 23rd August 2011

They’ve been buried for more than 200 years around 5,000 miles away from home - but it could finally be time for 13 U.S. sailors to come back.

A veterans' group wants Congress to return the remains of the Americans buried in Libya after they died in 1804 during the First Barbary War.

The American Legion has been lobbying since the Libya uprising began six months ago for the crew, who died when their explosives ship blew up.

The crew was led by Master Commandant Richard Somers and Lieutenant Henry Wadsworth, whose nephew was poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

‘It's the best chance we've had in a long time,’ Tim Tetz, of the American Legion, told the Huffington Post. ‘We've got a change of politics in Libya.

‘We've got family members who have stood up and said: “We want to have our family members brought home.”

‘We've got the will and might of America to say: “Let's respect those who fought our wars for us, and that includes all wars”.’

The phrase 'to the shores of Tripoli' in the official U.S. Marine Corps song has its origins in the First Barbary War, which ran from 1801 to 1805.

The American Legion secured the backing of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, reported the Huffington Post.


U.S. President Thomas Jefferson ordered American Navy vessels to the Mediterranean Sea in 1801.

It followed regular raids against American ships by pirates from the Barbary states of Morocco, Algeria, Tunis, and Tripolitania.

American sailors were abducted and ransomed back before sustained action begun in 1803.

A U.S. victory came in 1805 and a peace treaty was drawn up.

It got an amendment to a House bill telling the Defense Secretary to ‘exhume and transfer the remains’ of some servicemen buried in Tripoli.

But the Senate has not followed suit - and the group is concerned that ex-serviceman Senator John McCain could get in the way.
‘He has expressed some concern that he doesn't want to see it pass, which is disconcerting to us, and we've tried to influence him,’ Mr Tetz said.

The U.S. Navy is also known to be opposed to the American Legion's desire for the bodies to be returned.

However an American Legion spokesman told the Huffington Post that it is unacceptable for the sailors to be buried in a ‘hostile land’.

‘It's the best chance we've had in a long time. We've got a change of politics in Libya'
Tim Tetz, the American Legion

He said some are buried under Green Square, where Colonel Gaddafi’s government has held protest rallies.

The resting place of others is a Protestant cemetery that he described as a 'shambles'.
‘So this is not the way to treat those who serve America,’ he said, adding that there is space for the bodies in Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

American Heroes at Martyr's Square

Old map shows the Philadelphia sinking and the Intrepid explosion in Tripoli Harbor and the old castle fort.

American Heroes Buried at Martyr's Square Tripoli

Martyr's Square (aka Green Square) - Epicenter of the Libyan Revolution

The Arab revolutions that are sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East center around the public square in each city, and in Tripoli, that is Martyr’s Square, which was renamed Green Square when Mohmmar Gadhafi assumed power in a 1969 coup, but will assume its original name of Martyr’s Square after Gadhafi is gone.

But the only real martyrs actually buried at Martyr’s Square are eight American sailors, three officers and five men who died in the explosion of the USS Intrepid in Tripoli Harbor on September 4, 1804.

Their commander, 25 year old Master Commandant Richard Somers, was born in Somers Point, New Jersey, the son of a Revolutionary War colonel and privateer captain who attended the Philadelphia Free Academy with Stephen Decatur and Charles Stewart.

When President Washington ordered Captain John Barry, the Wexford, Ireland born “Father of the US Navy” to prepare some young men to be officers in the new US Navy, he chose Stewart as his first officer and Somers and Decatur as his Midshipmen.

A reluctant Congress finally approved financing for a Navy when North African Barbary Coast pirates began plundering American merchant ships, ransoming their crews and demanding tribute to stop the practice. Instead, Americans responded with the cry, “A million for defense but not one cent for tribute,” and built a fleet of frigates and schooners to fight the pirates. Somers, Decatur and Stewart served under Capt. Barry on the USS United States, built in Philadelphia.

Lt. Andrew Sterett aboard the schooner USS Enterprise was the first to encounter a pirate ship and won the engagement handily. Lt. Decatur was then given command of the Enterprise while Somers had the schooner USS Nautilas, both capturing pirate prizes, including a ketch they rechristened the USS Intrepid.

Unfortunately, the frigate USS Philadelphia ran aground while chasing a pirate coarser into Tripoli harbor and the ship and its 300 man crew, including Captain William Bainbridge and Lt. David Porter, were taken prisoners and held in the dungeons of the old castle fort.

Under the command of Captain Edward Preble, Somers and Decatur each led flotillas of gunboats against the pirate fleet in Tripoli harbor, and Decatur led a commando team into Tripoli harbor at night aboard the Intrepid, recaptured and sunk the Philadelphia and escaped without any casualties.

The success of that raid led Preble to approve another plan, to outfit the Intrepid with explosives as a fire ship, sail it into Tripoli harbor at night, aimed at the anchored enemy fleet, light a fuse and escape in row boats. But something went terribly wrong, the Intrepid exploded prematurely killing all thirteen men, who were found washed ashore the next day.

Their bodies were identified by the surgeon from the Philadelphia, and buried by a party of prisoners, “one cable’s length” (270 yards) east of the walls of the old castle fort, in two nearby but separate graves, one for the three officers and one for the ten seamen.

Besides Somers, the officers included Lt. Henry Wadsworth (uncle of Longfellow), the first officer, and Lt. Joseph Israel, who had come aboard after they had gotten underway and requested permission to stay aboard, the unlucky 13th man.

They were buried on the shores of Tripoli, and there they remained, until 1930, when an Italian army road work crew uncovered the remains of five of the men. They were reburied about a mile away in what is known as Old Protestant Cemetery, a walled enclosure that also includes the remains of about a hundred others, mainly Christians from various European embassies who died there.

In 1949, the USS Spokane put into Tripoli harbor, and honored those buried at the cemetery site with a formal ceremony, that included a bagpipe band and the mayor of Tripoli, Yousef Karamanli a namesake and a descendent of the Yousef Karamanli who led the pirates two centuries ago.

Throughout the fifties and sixties, the cemetery site was maintained by the Officer’s Wifes Club of nearby Wheelus Air Force base, but the US military were forced out when Mohmmar Gadhafi assumed power in a 1969 coup.

The cemetery site was then forgotten about and was overgrown with weeds and debris when two American tourists stumbled upon it, and wrote about it in American Legion Magazine (May, 1977). The article inspired many Americans, especially veterans and family descendents of Richard Somers and Henry Wadsworth, and they sought the repatriation of the remains of these men and the eight others who are buried in the original grave site outside the castle walls in Martyr’s Square, which Mohmmar Gadhafi had renamed Green Square.

By the 1980s however, the United States was practically at war with Gadhafi, who was held responsible for terrorists attacks against American soldiers in Europe. In response the United States bombed Tripoli, and hit Gadhafi’s tent, killing his adopted daughter.

When relations between Libya and the United States later thawed after the turn of the century, members of the Somers family and Somers Point officials personally asked Gadhafi to allow for the return of the remains of these Americans, and he agreed. It was the United States Department of Defense and the US Navy who balked. All of their studies of the cemetery site indicated it was a secured and well marked site, and should be the permanent resting place for those men.

In 2011 however, after the Arab revolution spread to Libya, and Green Square became a rally point for the pro-Gadhafi demonstrators, the original grave site once again came into primary focus, and Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R. NJ) asked for assistance from Rep. Mike Rogers (R. Mich), the powerful head of the House Intelligence Committee.

In April 2011 Rogers, a veteran himself, introduced a House Resolution that called for the Secretary of Defense to do whatever is necessary to repatriate the remains of the American military in Tripoli. And ater the national directors of the American Legion endorsed the measure, Rogers attached the resolution to the Defense Appropriations Act, which was passed by the House in early May and is now being considered by the Senate.

Now that Gadhafi is gone, Green Square has been renamed Martyr’s Square for the tens of thousands of young Arabs revolutionaries who died fighting tyranny, and for freedom, justice and democracy – the same things that Somers, Wadsworth, Israel and the men of the Intrepid died for over two centuries ago.

Now that the revolution has made it to Martyr’s Square in Tripoli, remember the officers and men of the Intrepid, and the fact that they are still buried there in unmarked graves, and should be repatriated home so they can be properly buried with full military honors.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Gate to Martyr's Square Tripoli

Feb 15/16, 2011 - A riot in Benghazi is triggered by the arrest of human rights activist Fethi Tarbel, who has worked to free political prisoners, Quryna newspaper reports.
February 17 - Activists designate February 17 as a day of rage. It is the anniversary of clashes in Benghazi in 2006 when security forces killed protesters attacking the consulate of the former colonial power Italy.
February 24 - Anti-government militias take control of central coastal city of Misrata after evicting forces loyal to Gaddafi.
February 26 - The U.N. Security Council imposes sanctions on Gaddafi and his family, and refers Libya's crackdown on rebels to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
February 28 - EU governments approve a package of sanctions against Gaddafi and his closest advisers including an arms embargo and bans on travel to the bloc.

March 5 - The rebel National Transitional Council meets in Benghazi and declares itself the sole representative for Libya.
March 10 - France recognizes the National Transitional Council (NTC) as legitimate representative of Libya's people. Libya suspends diplomatic relations with France the next day.
March 16 - Forces loyal to Gaddafi approach rebel-held Benghazi. Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam tells France-based TV channel Euronews: "Everything will be over in 48 hours."
March 17 - The U.N. Security Council votes to authorize a no-fly zone over Libya and "all necessary measures" -- code for military action -- to protect civilians against Gaddafi's army.
March 19 - The first air strikes halt the advance of Gaddafi's forces on Benghazi and target Libya's air defenses.
March 28 - Qatar becomes the first Arab country to recognize Libya's rebels as the people's legitimate representatives.
March 29 - A London conference of 40 governments and organizations agrees to set up a contact group comprising 20 countries to coordinate efforts in a post-Gaddafi Libya.
March 30 - Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa defects and flies to Britain.

April 10 - Gaddafi accepts a roadmap for ending the conflict, South African President Jacob Zuma says after leading a delegation of four African leaders at talks in Tripoli. Rebels reject the plan the next day.
April 30 - A NATO missile attack on a house in Tripoli kills Gaddafi's youngest son and three grandchildren.
May 30 - In his first appearance in a month, Gaddafi renews a ceasefire call in talks with visiting South African President Zuma but gives no sign he will heed demands to step down.

June 1 - Libya's top oil official Shokri Ghanem appears in Rome, saying he defected because of the relentless bloodshed.
June 8 - Western and Arab nations meet rebels in Abu Dhabi, discussing what U.S. officials call the "end-game" for Gaddafi.
June 15 - Gaddafi's government approves $31.4 billion budget for the rest of 2011, to show it is functioning as normal.
June 27 - The ICC issues arrest warrants for Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi on charges of crimes against humanity.

July 15 - The rebel NTC wins U.S. recognition as the legitimate government of Libya at a meeting in Turkey of the contact group on Libya.
July 26 - U.N. envoy Abdul Elah al-Khatib says after talks with Libya's prime minister that the government and the rebels remain far apart in efforts to end the crisis.
July 27 - Rebels win diplomatic recognition from Britain, which also expels the remaining Gaddafi diplomats from London.
July 28 - Abdel Fattah Younes, Gaddafi's former interior minister who defected to the rebels on February 22 and became their military chief, is killed in mysterious circumstances.

Aug 9 - Gaddafi's government accuses NATO of killing 85 civilians in an air strike near Zlitan, west of Misrata.
Aug 14 - Libyan rebels take the center of Zawiyah, 50 km (30 miles) west of Tripoli, cutting the coastal highway to Tunisia that keeps the capital supplied with food and fuel.
Aug 15 - In a barely audible telephone call to state television, Gaddafi calls on his followers to liberate Libya from rebels and NATO. "Get ready for the fight ... The blood of martyrs is fuel for the battlefield," he says.
-- Insurgents say they have captured Garyan, which controls the highway leading south from Tripoli.
Aug 16 - Rebels say they have completed moves to cut off roads to the capital after rapid advances in the west.


Aug 20 - Explosions and gunfire rattle Tripoli after days of battlefield defeats leave Gaddafi's government and troops besieged in the capital

Aug 21 - Rebels enter Tripoli with little resistance.
-- Gaddafi makes two audio addresses over state television calling on Libyans to fight off the rebel "rats" and saying he is in the capital and will be "with you until the end"
-- Rebels reach Green Square, the symbolic showcase the government had until recently used for mass demonstrations in support of Gaddafi. Rebels rename it Martyrs Square.
-- Libyan rebels say they have detained three of Gaddafi's sons, including Saif al-Islam, wanted for war crimes.

Aug 22 - Libyan government tanks and snipers put up scattered, last-ditch resistance in Tripoli after rebels sweep into the heart of the capital, cheered on by crowds.

Aug 23 - Saif al Islam, waving in triumph and taunting his father's enemies, surfaces in Tripoli overnight to prove he remains a free man, not a captive as rebels had claimed.
-- Insurgents later pour into Gaddafi's compound in Tripoli and have been seen firing in the air in celebration, Reuters reporters on the scene say. Pro-Gaddafi forces initially resist but the fighting subsequently ends.
-- Russian chess federation chief Kirsan Ilyumzhinov says Gaddafi has told him by telephone that he is still in Tripoli, alive and well.

Tripoli Tri-Color and Stars & Stripes

A Libyan rebel holds the Stars & Stripes high after liberating Benghazi

The Stars & Stripes and Libya's national tri-color flew side by side when Sen. John McCain visited the Libyan rebel capital of Benghazi and pledged American support.

Star-Spangled Shores of Tripoli

After a heavy shelling of Tripoli by three US warships, a landing party with the Marines in command hoisted the American flag for the first time over a fort in the Old World, April 27, 1805. One of the proudest moments in the storied history of the US Marine Corps. Image courtesy of the National Archives.

William Eaton and Sgt. Presley O'Bannon USMC and eight Marines lead the assault on Darnah.
Their march on Tripoli was thwarted by a peace treaty that allowed Yousef Karamanli to remain in power.

Wall Steet Journal OPINION • AUGUST 18, 2011

The Star-Spangled Shores of Tripoli

The Star-Spangled Shores of Tripoli - inbox/131f9e2f79d62d18

Libyan rebels are advancing on their capital, where 200 years ago the young U.S. won a major victory—and inspired a lasting phrase from Francis Scott Key.


Rebel forces in Libya raised their nation's old red, black and green banner over two more towns this week, from which they're now preparing to attack Tripoli. As they move to reclaim Libya from 40 years of tyrannical rule, we should recall that our flag was raised there two centuries ago, marking America's emergence as an international military power.

After our Revolutionary War, the Barbary Coast pirates—based in Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco—were a major foreign-policy crisis for the new United States. Since the 13th century those marauders had attacked European ships in the Mediterranean, freeing crews and cargoes only after receiving ransom payments. Without the protection of the British or the French navy, American shipping began to fall prey to the pirates in 1784.

More than one-fifth of U.S. trade then was with Mediterranean countries. As Michael Oren (now Israel's ambassador to the U.S.) noted in his 2007 history of American involvement in the Mideast, "Power, Faith and Fantasy," enterprising early Americans could sell lumber, tobacco and tools around the Mediterranean in exchange for delicacies like capers, figs and raisins. A brisk business surrounded the exchange of New England rum for Turkish opium.

With the Barbary pirates threatening both profitable trade and national pride, the new country was in a quandary. The need to protect American shipping helped drive the argument for a new and stronger Constitution. James Madison wrote in the Federalist Papers that only a more powerful central government could ward off "the rapacious demands of pirates and barbarians," while John Jay believed that the "pirates of Tunis and Tripoli" would compel the feeble American states to unite.

It took 15 years, as well as payouts of tribute to African pirates that sometimes cost 20% of the federal budget, before the U.S. had a sizable Navy. But our fleet ran into trouble after President Jefferson ordered the ships into action. The flagship of the armada, the Philadelphia, foundered on a reef off Tripoli in October 1803. Yusuf Karamanli, ruler of what is now Libya, imprisoned the entire 307-man crew of the 36-gun frigate and aimed its cannon at the rest of the U.S. fleet.

A daring raid by Navy Capt. Stephen Decatur set the ship afire in February 1804, but the American expedition otherwise was frustrated. In 1805, William Eaton, who had served previously as U.S. consul general in Tunis, organized a land attack on Libya. Determined to place a friend on the Libyan throne, Eaton led a former Libyan pasha—Hamet, who had been deposed and exiled by his younger brother Karamanli—plus nine Marines and 400 mercenaries on a sun-baked, two-month march of 500 miles from Egypt to Darnah, then Libya's second-largest city.

On April 27, 1805, after U.S. Navy ships bombarded the town, more than 800 people were killed and 1,200 were injured in a pitched battle. Marines then raised the 15-star U.S. flag over Darnah's harbor fortress. Karamanli's forces tried to retake the city, but the Americans and their allies held them off and prepared to march west on Tripoli.

A month later, Karamanli signed a new treaty and released the captain and crew of the Philadelphia (in exchange for $60,000). He also kept his throne, forced his brother Hamet back into exile, and a decade later was back to the same old pirate attacks, until the U.S. and other countries stopped the marauding for good.

But the American victory in 1805 established our new military prowess. Decatur was feted as a hero and the African battle would be enshrined in the Marine Corps Hymn:

From the halls of Montezuma,
To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country's battles
In the air, on land, and sea.

At a banquet honoring Decatur that fall, Francis Scott Key read his new poem, "When the Warrior Returns," about the battle in Darnah. In it was a phrase that would define his country's banner for all time, a phrase he would use nine years later while watching the
British attack Fort McHenry:

And pale beamed the Crescent, its splendor obscured
By the light of the Star Spangled flag of our nation.
Where each radiant star gleamed a meteor of war,
And the turbaned heads bowed to its terrible glare.

That 1805 battle gave the U.S. both pride in its ability to use force for just ends, and a phrase that has endured as a lasting symbol of the nation. It would be fitting if Libya's rebels, supported by America and her allies, soon have a new moment of splendor as they raise their flag, with its crescent and star, by the shores of Tripoli.

Mr. Marmon reported on Congress for the New York Times. His new book, "The Cheaters: America's Political Sex Scandals," will be published next year.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Name change for Green Square @ Google

Name change for Libyan square on Google Maps
(AP) –

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google Inc.'s online mapping service has changed the name of a Libyan location to what it was called before Moammar Gadhafi rose to power four decades ago.

The change came late Sunday, just hours after rebel forces pushed into Tripoli with little resistance.

"Green Square" is now "Martyrs' Square" on the online map for Tripoli, reflecting what rebels are now calling it.

The change was made quickly because Google now allows users to update its maps. A user did just that on Sunday night. Google approved it, making it visible to the public, shortly thereafter.

Although the square's name has been re-labeled on the map, users can find it by searching either name.

Google uses a broad range of sources to keep its maps up to date. This includes public and commercial data providers as well as user contributions.

On the Net:

Richard Somers Birthplace

Richard Somers was born in his father's house at Bethel and Shore Roads in Somers Point, NJ in September 1778, during the American Revolution. This photo was taken in 1912. When Richard Somers was born it was a tavern run by his father, a Colonel and commander of the local militia and a privateer.

Somers died in the explosion of the USS Intrepid at Tripoli Harbor on Sept. 4, 1804 and is buried outside the walls of the old castle fort in what is now Martyr's Square, Tripoli.

Monday, August 22, 2011

American Legion Presses for Repatriation

American Legion Sees Chance To Bring Home Remains Of Sailors Buried In Libya 200 Years Ago.

WASHINGTON -- Thirteen U.S. sailors who died in 1804 during the First Barbary War and were buried in Tripoli, Libya, may finally be coming home, if the American Legion gets its way.

Since the uprising in Libya broke out six months ago, the veterans organization has been lobbying Congress to bring home the remains of the U.S. servicemen. The crew, led by Master Commandant Richard Somers and Lt. Henry Wadsworth (uncle of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow), died whentheir explosives-packed ship blew up prematurely during a mission to Tripoli.

"It's the best chance we've had in a long time," said Tim Tetz, legislative director for the American Legion. "We've got a change of politics in Libya. We've got family members who have stood up and said, 'We want to have our family members brought home.' We've got the will and might of America to say, 'Let's respect those who fought our wars for us, and that includes all wars.'"

As Politico's Dave Levinthal reports, the American Legion is one of 11 groups that have "formally lobbied the federal government on pet causes that, in one fashion or another, concern Libya." Oil companies, the American Civil Liberties Union and United to End Genocide have all been taking their concerns to the federal government.

The American Legion, with the backing of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), was able to secure an amendment to a House bill directing the Defense Secretary to "exhume and transfer the remains of certain deceased members of the Armed Forces buried in Tripoli, Libya."

The Senate, however, has not followed suit. According to Tetz, one stumbling block may be Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who served in the U.S. Navy.

"He has expressed some concern that he doesn't want to see it pass, which is disconcerting to us, and we've tried to influence him where and when we can. So far, to no avail," said Tetz.

McCain did not return a request for comment.

The U.S. Navy also is opposed to the American Legion's request.

In 2008, Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, told Rep. Rogers, "Navy custom and tradition has been to honor the final resting place of those lost in downed ships and aircraft. The Navy considers the Tripoli cemetery to be the final resting place of these sailors who sacrificed their lives for our nation."

Navy spokeswoman Lt. Alana Garas confirmed to The Huffington Post that Roughead's statement remains the position of the service.

But Marty Callaghan, spokesman for the American Legion, said the current resting place of the Barbary War sailors is inadequate.

"They are buried in a hostile land," he said. "Some of them are buried right underneath the place called Green Square where Gaddafi's government often holds protest rallies and things of that nature. The other bodies are buried in a Protestant cemetery that is not kept up and is basically in shambles, more or less. So this is not the way to treat those who serve America."

He added that there are places reserved in Arlington National Cemetery if the sailors' bodies are returned to the United States.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Teddy Roosevelt Option

When Teddy Roosevelt was president he was informed that the remains of Revolutionary War hero John Paul Jones were discovered buried under a street in Paris. Roosevelt ordered an American warship to France to repatriate the remains and they were reburied in the chapel at the US Naval Academy at Annapolis.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

New Jersey Mission of Honor

N.J. Mission of Honor gives respectful and dignified burials to forgotten veterans.


The cremated remains of 12 veterans that had been unclaimed on the shelves of funeral homes across New Jersey — some for more than 30 years — were given a full military internment Thursday.

The burials were part of the ongoing efforts of the New Jersey Mission of Honor, which seeks to pay tribute to deceased and forgotten soldiers.

The day began with a special ceremony outside the Garfield VFW Post. Veterans from all over the state, some in full uniform and others in jeans and denim vests who rode in on Harleys, came to honor their reclaimed comrades.

When the Mission of Honor began two years ago, its members were told that there were no cremains to be found sitting forgotten on the shelves of funeral homes, said Francis Carrasco, chairman of the Mission of Honor and a Lodi resident. But so far, the group has returned unclaimed veterans’ cremains to roughly 130 families, and have buried 31 who had no one else to claim them.

“Destiny has brought us here to gather and pay our respects to these cremains that had been forgotten, but have been found,” said Al Lucente, Bergen CountyCoordinator of the Mission of Honor. “They have endured enough. They now have closure.”

The cremains of the veterans were claimed from Lakeview Memorial Home in Clifton, Codey Funeral Home in Orange, Day Funeral Home in Keyport, and the Aug F. Schmidt Funeral Home in Elizabeth. All but two of the men served in World War II. The cremains of Robert M. Hults, of Orange, who served as a sergeant with the Army from 1942 to 1946, had been on a shelf at the Codey Funeral Home in Orange for almost 38 years before the Mission of Honor came knocking.

Remembering those who served

These 12 veterans were interred at Brigadier General William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Wrightstown Thursday:
• Owen J. Harris. Served 1941 to 1945 in the Merchant Marines. Died April 28, 1977, in Union Beach.
• Neil Krisch. Served 1941 to 1945 as a Tech Sgt. in the Army. Died Oct. 27, 1978 in Union Beach.
• John F. Bannon. Served 1943 to 1946 as a Tech 4 Sgt. in the Army. Died Nov. 17, 1993 in Elizabeth.
• Ralph M. Dorsch. Served 1943 to 1946 as a Tech 3 Sgt. in the Army. Died April 19, 2003 in Elizabeth.
• Andrew Fachet Jr. Served 1942 to 1946 as a Staff Sgt. in the Army. Died Sept. 18, 1977, in Newark.
• Michael Begosh. Served 1942 to 1943 as a Private in the Army. Died Nov. 20, 1991 in Passaic.
• Arthur W. Harty. Served 1943 to 1945 as Seaman 1st Class in the Navy. Died Jan. 31, 1985 in Paterson.
• Frank Fryer. Served in the Army as a Private first from 1920 to 1922, then again as Private from 1938 to 1940. Died Aug. 26, 1979 in Orange.
• Arthur J.C. Omdal. Served 1942 to 1945 as a Private in the Army. Died July 2, 1981 in Orange.
• Robert M. Hults. Served 1942 to 1946 as a Sergeant in the Army. Died Nov. 2, 1973 in Orange.
• George Davis. Served in the Army from 1943 to 1945. Died May 25, 1982 in Orange.
• John Barry. Served in the Army during the Korean War, 1950 to 1953. Died March 23, 1999 in Verona.

After the ceremony in Garfield, the State Police led a funeral procession down the Turnpike to Brigadier General William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery, in Wrightstown. The roar of the bikers’ engines gave way to a solemn silence at 2 p.m. as the Mission of Honor, joined by various representatives of the Armed Forces, conducted a full military internment.

Maj. Gen. Glenn K. Rieth, Adjutant General of New Jersey, praised the all-volunteer group for its ongoing efforts.

“There’s not any veteran that should be left alone anywhere,” Rieth said. “Every veteran, regardless of where they are, regardless of what shelf they sit on, should be laid to rest with dignity and honor.”

Mission of Honor Chaplain Jerry Skorch delivered a eulogy for the internment, and gave some insight into who the 12 men were – where they were born, where and when they served, and where they lived out the remainders of their lives once they returned to the U.S. For each veteran, he proclaimed that on that day, everyone present was that man’s family.

After the eulogy, six soldiers in uniform stood before the dark wooden boxes containing the veterans’ cremains and unfurled a large American flag. Across the field, seven volunteers from the Mission of Honor, dressed in black, white and gold, fired three volleys. Retired First Sgt. Richard Pinter played Taps on his bugle. The uniformed soldiers then carefully folded the flag into a tight triangle, and presented it to Rieth. Eleven more flags were then presented to the general in graceful and somber precision, and the ceremony was over.

“This is a beautiful thing,” said Fred Vineyard, of Somers Point, the 1st Vice Commander of American Veterans, a national veteran’s group. “These men were sitting on selves for years and years. They deserve a resting place here in Doyle cemetery.”

The Mission of Honor is currently working to verify that cremains from a home in Cliffside Park are from veterans, Carrasco said. The group expects to hold its next internment ceremony in Toms River in October.

“As long as funeral homes keep working with us to allow us to identify these cremains, we’ll keep going,” Carrasco said.