Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Remember the Men of the Intrepid on Veterans Day
The remains of Master Commandant Richard Somers, Lt. Henry Wadsworth, Lt. Joseph Israel and five men of the first USS Intrepid are buried in a mass, unmarked grave under this parking lot outside the walls of the old castle fort at Martyrs Square, Tripoli.
Remember the Men of the Intrepid on Veterans Day.
Friday, November 11th is Veterans Day, a national holiday that we celebrate in honor of all of those who have served in the military.
Regardless of what day it is, when I learn someone is a veteran I automatically thank them for serving their country, and on special holidays I think of my father, a B-17 airman during WWII and his brother, my uncle Leo, who I never knew because he was killed in combat aboard the battleship South Dakota and honorably buried at sea.
Veterans Day is for those who lived and survived to tell the stories of those who gave their lives – the ultimate sacrifice, so we can live the way we do.
On this Veterans Day I ask all veterans to remember Richard Somers and the men of the first USS Intrepid, whose remains are still buried in Tripoli, and to try to mention them at any official ceremony that is held on this Veterans Day 2011. It is especially appropriate to think of them at this time as the US Senate considers a resolution to repatriate the remains of our servicemen from Tripoli (attached as an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act), so they can be properly reburied at home with full honors.
As James Fenimore Cooper wrote over a century ago, “Here then lie the remains of Somers and his gallant friends; and it might be well to instruct the commander of some national cruiser to search for their bones, that they might be finally incorporated with the dust of their native land.”
And thanks for being a Veteran
The remains of five of the men of the Intrepid are buried in five marked crypts at this walled cemetery near Tripoli harbor, Libya.
James Fenimore Cooper, in Graham’s Magazine (Vol. XXI, No. 4, circa 1850) wrote a
profile of Richard Somers in which he authoritatively reported, “…The
ten 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 [200 yards] to the southward and eastward of
the earth. Small stones were placed at the four corners of the last
grave, to mark its site; but they were shortly after removed by the
Turks, who refused to let what they conceived to be a Christian
monument, disfigure their land.”
“Here, then, lie the remains of Somers, and his two gallant friends;
and it might be well to instruct the commander of some national
cruiser to search for their bones, that they might be finally
incorporated with the dust of their native land. Their identity would
at once be established by the number of the skeletons, and the friends
of the deceased might find a melancholy consolation in being permitted
to drop a tear over the spot in which they would be finally entombed.”
US Ambassador to Libya Mr. Gene Cretz and US Military attache Brian Linvill place American flags at the five graves of the men of the Intrepid at Old Protestant Cemetery on Memorial Day, 2010.