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Watch Samy Gemayel defending Bachir at

Watch Bachir singing Kataeb anthem at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsH-DDW0cps

Watch Bachir talking about the fate of the Lebanese Forces at

Watch Bachir talking about the Kataeb at

Some people worshipped him; some disliked him. He was a leader to many; to others, he was an enemy to be eliminated. But above all, he was a man who carried a dream and who had conviction, strength and popular support to make that dream a reality.

He had already begun weaving the threads of a new fabric for his country when his life was cut short by those who feared the changes he proposed. But his spirit lives on in those who knew and loved him. Out of the wound in our bleeding hearts, out of the tears in our children’s eyes, out of our strong attachment to our land, he emerged and struck lightning in the sky giving us hope and a dream, a beautiful dream of a free 10452km2; Lebanon. Free of all foreign occupation and brotherly presence.

He gave us the dream of a strong unified Lebanon whereby all its different ethnic and religious groups could coexist in peace and harmony.

After the Cairo Agreement, the situation in Lebanon was steadily deteriorating, with continued violent outbreaks of fighting between the armed Palestinians and the Lebanese Army. Attacks by the armed Palestinians against Israeli targets across the Lebanese-Israeli border grew more numerous and deadly. After the Lebanese-PLO war broke on in April 1975, Bashir joined his fellow militia members of the Kataeb party in defending the Christian areas against the PLO attacks.

When William Hawi, Commander-in-Chief of the Kataeb Military Council was killed in the Lebanese Forces siege of the PLO stronghold in Tell Zaatar in July 1976, Bashir was chosen to succeed him. By August 30, he was appointed head of the unified command of the Lebanese Forces, a coalition of the Christian militias of the Kataeb Party, National Liberal Party, the Tanzim and the Guardians of the Cedars.

On July 7, 1980, these Christian militias were unified into one as the Lebanese Forces with Bashir Gemayel as their Commander-in-Chief. By January 1981, Gemayel also held positions as Chief of the Kataeb Security Council and member of the Kataeb Political Bureau.

As Commander-in-Chief, Bashir went on strengthening the military branch of the Lebanese Forces, instituting military training in schools of the Christian sector to build up reserves. He also gave the Lebanese Forces a broader political dimension and popular basis. He organized public services in the liberated areas (Eastern Region) to substitute for the lack of government provided services. These included a public transportation system; a popular committee to provide the daily needs of the population such as water, electricity, road maintenance, garbage collection, sewage, social relief services, etc.; two radio stations and a television station; and a small airport.

Under President Elias Sarkis, a Council of National Salvation was formed in June 1982 which grouped the major militia and political leaders in an effort to draw up measures to end the seven years of war which had shaken Lebanon. Gemayel participated on the short-lived Council as the representative of the Lebanese Forces.

As Commander-in-Chief of the Lebanese Forces, Bashir had many opportunities to meet foreign officials both abroad and in Lebanon to discuss his vision of Lebanon. Most notably of these were several trips he made to the United States, where he consulted with officials from the State Department, the White House, Senators and Congressmen; his visit to Saudi Arabia in July 1982 to consult with King Fahd; his meeting with European Christian Democrat Parliamentary groups; and his meetings with US, UN and Arab envoys who were working on finding solutions to the Lebanese crisis.

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