FORT HOOD (November 10, 2009)—President Barack Obama told the families of the 13 victims of the deadly Fort Hood shooting rampage Tuesday that neither the country nor the values upon which the U.S. was founded could exist without such men and women.
“For those families that have lost a loved, one, no words can fill the void that’s been left,” he said.
“We knew these men and women as soldiers and caregivers,” he said.
“You knew them as mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers.
“But here is what you must also know,” he said.
“Your loved ones endure through the life of our nation. Their memory will be honored in the places they lived and by the people they touched. Their life’s work is our security and the freedom we so often take for granted,” he said.
“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,” he said
“We are a nation that endures because of the courage of those who defend it,” he said.
“We say goodbye to those that now belong to eternity.”
Full Text Of The President’s Remarks
Fort Hood Commander Lt. Gen. Robert Cone said 545 soldiers from the post have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, but “never did we expect to pay such a high price at home.”
“Today we gather to mourn the loss of 13 American heroes,” he said.
“It is important to know that you are not alone,” he told the families of the fallen.
“Our Army family deeply mourns the loss of your loved ones.”
The families of the victims and several soldiers who were wounded in the attack last Thursday were on the stage from which the president and others spoke.
Some made their way there using crutches.
One was in a wheelchair.
At the front of the platform, a row of battlefield crosses stood; the traditional soldier tribute to the fallen.
Pairs of boots, with rifles protruding from one of each pair, a helmet resting atop each weapon and a photo of each victim in front of the set of boots.
Earlier, Mr. Obama met privately with the families of the 13 people who were killed.
He and the first lady were also to visit wounded troops in the hospital before returning to Washington.
Soldiers and Fort Hood area residents began lining up Tuesday morning to attend the service, which was scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. but started more than 30 minutes late.
Some relatives were wearing red, white and blue ribbons.
Sheila Wormuth, whose husband is stationed at Fort Hood, brought her 3-year-old daughter to the service to show their support.
She said her husband wasn't at the shooting site Thursday, but "what happens to my husband's brothers and sisters happens to us."
The ceremony site was a field on the massive post cordoned off with walls of steel shipping containers.
Seven members of the Texas Congressional delegation attended the memorial including Sen. John Cornyn & his wife, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Rep. Chet Edwards, Rep. John Carter, Rep. Kay Granger, Rep. Al Green and Rep. Michael Burgess.
Gov. Rick Perry attended, as well.
Also attending were Sen. John McCain, Arizona, Sen. Herb Kohl, Wisconsin, Sen. Roland Burris, Illinois, Sen. Al Franken, Minnesota and his wife,Sen. Jim Inhofe, Oklahoma, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota, Sen. Russ Feingold, Wisconsin, Rep. Judy Biggert, Illinois, Rep. Betty McCollum, Minnesota, Rep. Jesse L. Jackson, Jr., Illinois, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Utah, Rep. Tom Petri, Wisconsin and Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin.