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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Obama pays tribute to victims at Fort Hood memorial service

Soldiers bring water onto the field in preparation for the memorial service for victims of the shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, Tuesday, November 10, 2009.

FORT HOOD, Texas — PresidentBarack Obama, speaking Tuesday at a memorial service for the Fort Hood shootings, called the massacre painful and incomprehensible, the more so because of where it occurred.

“”This is a time of war. And yet these Americans did not die on a foreign field of battle,”” Obama told more than 15,000 soldiers and others gathered Tuesday afternoon at the nation’s largest military installation, four days after the worst act of violence on an American base. “”Here, at Fort Hood, we pay tribute to 13 men and women who were not able to escape the horror of war, even in the comfort of home.””

The president and first ladyMichelle Obamaspent about 90 minutes comforting the relatives of those slain by an Army psychiatrist and also those injured in the rampage. They were then scheduled to visit families of the victims, as well as those wounded in the shootings.

In his remarks outside III Corps Headquarters, Obama tread carefully about the motives of Maj.Nidal Malik Hasan, alluding to his Muslim faith without directly blaming it. Police shot Hasan four times to end the attack, and he emerged from a coma over the weekend.

“”It may be hard to comprehend the twisted logic that led to this tragedy. But this much we do know — no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor,”” Obama said. “”And for what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice — in this world, and the next.””

Obama did not shy from the details of the horrific acts — though he dwelt as much on the acts of heroism as on the killing spree.

“”Soldiers made makeshift tourniquets out of their clothes. They braved gunfire to reach the wounded, and ferried them to safety in the backs of cars and a pick-up truck,”” Obama recounted.

As he did in his inaugural address and in a speech in Cairo meant to offer a fresh U.S. relationship with the Muslim world, Obama emphasized that multiculturalism makes America strong. He subtly denounced the sort of extremism that may have fueled Hasan’s violence.

“”We are a nation that guarantees the freedom to worship as one chooses. And instead of claiming God for our side, we remember Lincoln’s words, and always pray to be on the side of God,”” Obama said. “”We are a nation of laws whose commitment to justice is so enduring that we would treat a gunman and give him due process, just as surely as we will see that he pays for his crimes.””

And he paid homage to the victims, mentioning them by name and giving a brief biographical sketch of each.

“”We knew these men and women as soldiers and caregivers. You knew them as mothers and fathers; sons and daughters; sisters and brothers,”” he said. “”But here is what you must also know: 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.”


(c) 2009, The Dallas Morning News.

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Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.


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