(CNSNews.com) - "The war on terror began 34 years ago today," Vice President Mike Pence said on Monday at an event commemorating the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.
"Thirty-four years ago today, America was thrust into war with an enemy unlike any we had ever faced," Pence said, explaining what happened shortly after the sun rose on that terrible Sunday morning.
241 Americans, many of them members of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, were killed when "evil" -- the terrorist group Hezbollah -- "set them in its sights."
"These brave Americans were stationed in that ancient land to keep a fragile peace," to prevent a civil war from spreading, Pence said:
The men began their day like any other -- writing letters to their loved ones, eating in the mess, and rising from their racks. But beyond the barracks' walls, unbeknownst to them, a lone truck began its approach.
It entered the airport, turned toward the building, circled in a parking lot just beyond the wire barrier. And then history records the truck rushed forward. It burst through the wires, sped between two guard posts, and through the open gate -- crashed into the lobby.
Within seconds -- within just moments the driver detonated his deadly cargo, the light of the dawning sun was virtually eclipsed by what was described as the largest non-nuclear explosion in the history of the world.
In that moment, 241 Americans lost their lives. They were soldiers, they were sailors, but the vast majority of them were United States Marines. It was the bloodiest day for the United States Marine Corps since the assault on Iwo Jima.
Pence said the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut "was the opening salvo in a war that we have waged ever since -- the global war on terror."
He noted that the conflict has taken American troops to far corners of the world -- "from Lebanon to Libya, from Nigeria to Afghanistan, from Somalia to Iraq, and many other battlefields in between."
The vice president repeated President Trump's promise to rebuild the U.S. military, to stand with our allies, and to stand up to our enemies. "And we are taking the fight to terrorists on our terms, on their soil."
Pence also said the Trump administration has "redoubled" its commitment to cripple Hezbollah's terrorist network and bring its leaders to justice.
He noted that earlier this year, two Hezbollah operatives were arrested in New York and Michigan. "And earlier this month, our administration announced rewards for information leading to the location, arrest, and conviction of two of Hezbollah's senior-most leaders, including Fuad Shukr, one of the masterminds behind the bombing of the Marine Corps barracks."
Pence described Hezbollah as a "proxy" for Iran, and he said President Trump "has put Iran on notice that we will no longer tolerate their destabilizing activities or their support of terrorism across the region and across the world."
And while the war on terror began 34 years ago, Pence hailed the "brave Americans" who continue the fight, including the four who died in Niger earlier this month.
"When heroes fall, America mourns. And today, 34 years on, we still mourn with those who mourn and grieve," he said.