In an era of ubiquitous communications, social media, and by-the-minute news cycle, it was not long after the blast that my phone went off, streams of texts cascading across my screen. Something was off.
“Zack, did you hear about the explosion in Beirut?” a friend asked with uncharacteristic soberness. I had not. But it’s the Middle East, and like so many people of the region, I tend to process such inquiries with a prosaic disposition.
Then the videos started steaming in. In all my years living or working in conflict zones, I have never seen such an explosion in an urban environment. “Not since Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” a fellow veteran noted. Sadly, that was not hyperbole. Later reports indicated that the blast had the explosive force of a small nuclear device. The impact on Lebanon has been immediate and catastrophic: 4,000 wounded, at least 100 dead, countless buildings damaged or destroyed, billions in damage, and 300,000 people homeless.
“I am hearing it is total devastation in Beirut. I pray SoA will be able to assist,” messaged a former Special Operations Commander who served in Lebanon. Indeed, we intend to provide assistance and show solidarity between the American and the Lebanese people in this time of need.
To formulate a Spirit of America response, our team has reached out to US military commanders and embassy officials, Lebanese Army generals, civil society leaders, and regional analysts. Our goal is to respond quickly and with maximum effect. Through our on-the-ground network and the trust we’ve forged with US and Lebanese officials, Spirit of America can and will assist Lebanon, as the commander had hoped.
But we need your help. We are launching a disaster response campaign to aid recovery and demonstrate American goodwill during Lebanon’s hour of darkness.The campaign will respond to emerging needs and help first responders, security officials, and leaders forge a more effective response.
Your support is crucial to our ability to respond and meet the moment. Donate now.
Regional Director – Middle East and Central Asia