George Shultz invited us down to Augusta one October weekend to golf. It was a weekend that I will never forget. Nancy and I were put up in the cottage Ike used when he frequented the links there. The weekend would have been eventful enough by the fact that a gunman took over the pro shop and held two of my staff hostage. Fortunately, the matter ended peacefully.
I can’t say the same for the other events of that weekend. I guess it was three or four in the morning when the telephone rang. We had received a request for help from half a dozen countries in the Caribbean telling us they knew they were next in line to fall because of what was happening on their sister island of Grenada, where armed thugs backed by Cubans had taken over. The other islands said they didn’t have the power to do anything by themselves and that they needed our help in addition.
I immediately called a meeting in the cottage. I knew if we turned them down, we might as well forget any relationship with other countries in the Americas. I gave the go-ahead. Grenada was so close to Cuba that I said this deal has to be the best-kept secret in town until it’s under way. Only a very few outside the Pentagon knew what we were planning. Even though I’d given the go-ahead on the operation, we decided to stay in Augusta so as not to tip anyone off about what we were up to.
Then something happened that caused us to leave immediately for Washington. We received word on the bombing of our Marine barracks in Lebanon. Our boys got hit with two thousand pounds of TNT loaded onto a truck piloted by a suicide driver.
That was our hope - to bring some relief to the people of that suffering, violent place. Those boys gave their lives because of our ideal that life should have some peace to it. We can’t abandon our hopes, but my how it still hurts to have lost those young men. Sending our boys to that place is the most anguishing regret of my years as President.
The following is the speech I gave to the American people on the events of that week.
- Ronald Reagan -