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While flying the US flag in international waters, a two-hour multi-wave attack on the USS Liberty was launched by Israeli warplanes and torpedo boats. Among the 294 men on board the ship, 34 were killed and 174 were injured.

USS Liberty Remembrance Day was established in honor of the people who were killed or wounded during this attack.

History of USS Liberty Remembrance Day

In honor of the victims and survivors of a brutal attack on an American naval vessel on June 8, 1967, USS Liberty Remembrance Day was established. The history of this event is fraught with confusion and controversy because of what occurred while the vessel was performing signal intelligence (spy) missions in the Mediterranean, near Egypt, during a six-day war between Israel and several Arab nations. The ship was flying the US flag and remained in international waters.

Part of the confusion related to the event is that the USS Liberty was sent a message by naval authorities to back off from its closest point of approach because of the conflict between Israel and the Arab nations. But the vessel did not receive the message until after the attack.

Officially, the attack on the USS Liberty by the nation of Israel, a US ally, was said to be an error. The Israeli government subsequently apologized saying that they thought it was an Egyptian ship. Later the Israeli government paid the US more than $13 million to the US government to compensate the families of the men who were killed, to the survivors who were wounded, and for material damage to the ship.

Some experts and many survivors of the attack have argued that the attack was intentional. Certain sources have claimed that the Israeli military knew that this was an American ship and chose to attack anyway. Many people also believe that senior naval officers refused to thoroughly investigate the attack, presumably to preserve the friendly relationship between the US and Israel.

The observance of USS Liberty Remembrance Day is meant to bring attention to the devastating events that occurred in 1967, remembering the lives that were lost and injuries that occurred – which could possibly have been prevented with better communication. The 50th anniversary of the event, in 2017, was instrumental in promoting USS Liberty Remembrance Day and bringing it to the forefront of people’s minds once again.

How to Observe USS Liberty Remembrance Day

Pay respects to those lives lost and those injured on USS Liberty Remembrance Day with some of these ideas:

Learn More About the USS Liberty

One way to show honor and respect on USS Liberty Remembrance Day might be to gain more information about the ship and the events surrounding this devastating attack. Consider some of these facts related to the incident:

  • This was one of the worst attacks in history on a non-combatant American vessel.

  • Survivors were given gag orders, preventing them from talking about what happened.

  • Though it was terribly damaged, the crew kept the USS Liberty from sinking until it could get away and get help.

Visit Arlington National Cemetery

Located in Arlington, Virginia, this cemetery is maintained by the US Army and is the place where more than 400,000 soldiers, airmen, seamen and others are buried. It is also the location of the USS Liberty Memorial, naming the casualties of the 1967 incident.

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