The Beirut Explosion from the Perspective of a First-generation Lebanese-American
Start writing a post
News

The Beirut Explosion from the Perspective of a First-generation Lebanese-American

Even one month later, this wasn't just a normal day in the Middle East.

143
The Beirut Explosion from the Perspective of a First-generation Lebanese-American

On August 4th, 2020, around 6:00 pm, 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded in the Beirut port. Hundreds of people were either killed, or found dead days later. Thousands were injured, and hospitals, which had also sustained substantial damage, were overflowing with victims in critical condition. Hundreds of thousands were left homeless, their homes and belongings destroyed, their businesses severely damaged, and their belongings and livelihoods strewn across the streets of the once beautiful Beirut.

The origins of the explosion are widely debated, but one thing is certain. The Lebanese government turned its back on its own people. The explosives had been confiscated and stored at the port for years, which is a crucial location for Lebanon's imports and exports. Government officials conveniently ignored the experts who had repeatedly warned that the ammonium nitrate was bound to explode at any moment.

When it finally did happen, the Lebanese government rejected foreign aid when countries like France and the Netherlands committed to donating to non-governmental organizations out of mistrust of the current institution. This arrogant action cost the lives of first-responders and firefighters who had arrived early to the scene of the initial fire. Search teams quit their search early on the night of the explosion at the command of the Lebanese government, leaving young heroes to die beneath the rubble, most of them praying and believing they would be saved.

As a first-generation Lebanese-American, I felt the glass-shattering impact of the explosion all the way in my Georgia home, but it was a different kind of pain. Watching videos of the damage done to familiar streets, seeing my parents distraught faces as they watched their childhood home in utter ruin, and hearing about the destruction done to my relative's homes where I had spent many summers as a child resulted in a different kind of pain. I'll never forget the look in my father's eyes when we watched the video of his old school's obliterated hallways.

The best way I can describe seeing these horrific images is complete and utter helplessness. Every part of me wanted to join in and help clean up the streets, hug my grandparents tight, and help my aunts and uncles repair their childhood home. But the only thing I could do was call, watch, and wait.

Admittedly, it has been challenging for me to sit down and even write this article. I want to do my country justice by saying the right words that will truly express the grief, pain, and heartbreak I feel. However, no English words, phrases, or sayings will ever capture how this event has changed Lebanon. The longer I wait, the more guilty I feel for not being able to do more, a common experience shared by children of immigrants.

My only solace was the outpour of support from friends and on social media. The response to the explosion on Western shores far surpassed all my expectations. People were eager to help, eager to post, share, and donate to help people in a country they might not have even known much about. However, like many movements that have gained traction on social media in 2020, it quickly fizzled away.

Explosions in Beirut, bombing in Gaza, famine in Yemen, and tragedy in the Middle East is not normal, nor is it a trend. Anyone with family abroad knows that no matter how many times tragedy strikes, it doesn't hurt or devastate our lives any less.

Before the explosion, Lebanon was already dealing with months of protests against a corrupt government, a severe financial crisis leaving thousands hungry and out of work, and the Coronavirus. The country was barely equipped to handle another beating as brutal as this one. However, one thing that I take pride in is the tenacity, strength, and sheer willpower of the Lebanese people. No other group of people can take to the streets as fast as they did to help their fellow neighbors.

Nothing can break down the Lebanese people. Beirut has fallen seven times, and it has been rebuilt stronger and better each and every time.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
the beatles
Wikipedia Commons

For as long as I can remember, I have been listening to The Beatles. Every year, my mom would appropriately blast “Birthday” on anyone’s birthday. I knew all of the words to “Back In The U.S.S.R” by the time I was 5 (Even though I had no idea what or where the U.S.S.R was). I grew up with John, Paul, George, and Ringo instead Justin, JC, Joey, Chris and Lance (I had to google N*SYNC to remember their names). The highlight of my short life was Paul McCartney in concert twice. I’m not someone to “fangirl” but those days I fangirled hard. The music of The Beatles has gotten me through everything. Their songs have brought me more joy, peace, and comfort. I can listen to them in any situation and find what I need. Here are the best lyrics from The Beatles for every and any occasion.

Keep Reading...Show less
Being Invisible The Best Super Power

The best superpower ever? Being invisible of course. Imagine just being able to go from seen to unseen on a dime. Who wouldn't want to have the opportunity to be invisible? Superman and Batman have nothing on being invisible with their superhero abilities. Here are some things that you could do while being invisible, because being invisible can benefit your social life too.

Keep Reading...Show less
houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee
nappy.co

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

95744
college students waiting in a long line in the hallway
StableDiffusion

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments