Hood, nation pay tribute to victims of post shooting spree
November 11, 2009
FORT HOOD, Texas (Nov. 10, 2009) -- The mournful and all too familiar scene of a bugler playing Taps occurred again here Tuesday as the Fort Hood community paid its respects to fallen warriors struck down last week allegedly at the hands of a lone gunman, who also happened to wear an Army uniform.
"No words can ever express our sadness," Lt. Gen. Robert Cone, III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general said before President Barack Obama took the stage.
"We can never accept the loss of Soldiers at home," Cone added. "Our Army family shares in the loss of your loved ones."
The general also praised the courage of the Soldiers who disregarded their own safety to render aid to others at the scene.
Prior to his public address, the president spoke with many of the survivors and the families of the fallen. Speaking to an estimated 15,000 people at the memorial, Obama vowed that justice will be done in the attack that left 13 dead and 43 wounded.
"No faith justifies these murderous and craven acts," Obama said, noting that Soldiers who responded to the attack "remind us of who we are as Americans."
Although the president told the families that "no words can fill the void that has been left," he added, "your loved ones endure through the life of our nation.
"Their life's work is our security and the freedom that we too often take for granted. Every evening that the sun sets on a tranquil town; every dawn that a flag is unfurled; every moment that an American enjoys life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - that is their legacy," the president said.
The Fort Hood community has suffered 545 Soldiers killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Cone said, "but never did we expect to pay such a high price at home."
The Army Chief of Staff, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., added, "Grieve with us. Don't grieve for us.
"Those who have fallen did so in the service of their country," he said. "They freely answered the call to serve, and they gave their lives for something that they loved and believed in."
The fallen came from 11 different states and from all walks of life to answer the call of service, Cone said, emphasizing their diversity. The deadly incident will motivate Soldiers to renew their resolve and commitment of the military and to win the nation's wars, the general said.
"May our continued service be a tribute to them," Cone said.
Like generations before them, President Obama said this generation of servicemembers has paid the price for freedom.
At the conclusion of the memorial ceremony, Obama and first lady Michelle Obama laid a presidential coin before each of the 13 battlefield crosses - the helmet, boots and rifle representing each of those killed - before family members and comrades filed past.