Lejeune Greenway and Trail
A Path Sharing Our Commitment to Never Forget
Lejeune Memorial Gardens contains the Beirut Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, 9/11 Memorial and spaces reserved for additional memorials as well as locations for an amphitheater and the Museum of the Marine. Following the transition of former railroad tracks into trails to the base, in 2007 the City won funds to begin work on a missing connector from downtown Jacksonville to the current pathway into Camp Lejeune at the point of the iconic pedestrian bridge over Lejeune Boulevard. The missing pathway had been part of a master plan and a tunnel for the path under the NC24 Bypass was included in that project.
To ensure the path considered the current and future design of the Lejeune Memorial Gardens, the City convened a stakeholders group. It included representatives of every memorial that was in the Lejeune Memorial Gardens at that time, and representatives of several which were in the planning stages. Representatives included some of the original organizers that created the Beirut Memorial and who had worked with the families and the community to construct the memorial and who today serve on the Beirut Memorial Advisory Board. The Beirut Veterans of America representative participates with this Board appointed by the Base and the City. After the Beirut Bombing the City maintained lists of family members for notifications of ceremonies and news about the construction of the Memorial. Those listed were later turned over to the Beirut Veterans of America as the official representative of the families.
The Planning for the Route
During 2009, the group deliberated the path from downtown to the current path. An engineering firm helped facilitate the process. Each of the memorial sites has a natural boundary and the path was kept out of each of those sites. After months of deliberation a route that helps create a safe entrance into the Lejeune for pedestrians and others and runs under the existing power lines into the Memorial was selected. Nothing can be built under the power lines, and the open space provides a spacious separation from the 9/11 and Beirut Memorials while affording path users the opportunity to view the memorials.
Respect to the Master Plan
The selected pathway weaves between the Beirut Memorial and the 9/11 Memorial without disturbing either. It protects the integrity of the sites by hugging the south tree line of the existing utility easement where nothing can be built. From there it follows a ravine and emerges near Lejeune Boulevard where it meanders onto the tunnel under the bypass. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is responsible for the Lejeune Memorial Gardens. Each adjustment to the Master Plan is carefully considered and the input of the Lejeune Memorial Gardens Advisory Committee is heard. This group, representing every memorial in place now or planned for the future, meets regularly to advise the Commanding General on matters related to the Gardens. They have repeatedly endorsed the routing as the best option available and the most beneficial to the public.
Part of a Commitment to Never Forget
After the Beirut Bomb Blast of 1983, the City of Jacksonville recognized just how interwoven the community of military and civilians had become. When a class at Northwoods Park Middle School made a pledge to plant a tree for every man who died in the bomb blast, the community, and many, many more, rallied around that call and produced the funds that planted the trees and built the Memorial. Each year, the City solemnly repeats the pledge to never forget. Those who gave to this project and the City which gave more than $2.1 million to memorials and projects in the Lejeune Memorial Gardens, wanted these memorials to be seen, to stand testament to the commitment of the City and its people to never forget. The pathway will provide access for more to see and experience these memorials.
Greater access to History
When the Jacksonville Greenway Trail is installed it will be with reverence to all of the memorials within Lejeune Memorial Gardens. The path is connection. It will connect the Civilian community of Jacksonville with the Military community of Camp Lejeune. It will connect the revitalized Downtown area with pedestrians both on foot and on bikes. Most importantly the Jacksonville Greenway Trail is a connection to our past. It will connect visitors to Lejeune Memorial Gardens and to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our Country. It will connect future generations to the adversities overcome by the first black Marines at the Montford Point Marines Memorial and to the history of all who have served at the Museum of the Marine. The Jacksonville Greenway Trail will allow greater access for everyone to a site that preserves and honors the legacies of America’s finest.