Soldiers, Family Come Together To Grieve at Fort Hood
Fort Hood, Texas
11 November 2009
President Obama spoke at a memorial ceremony at Fort Hood, Texas, Tuesday for the 13 people who died there last week when a gunman opened fire at the large military base. The alleged attacker, who was wounded by police, is an army psychiatrist. The attack on a domestic base, allegedly by a fellow soldier has saddened and shocked many servicemen and their families.
|President Barack Obama speaks at a memorial service at Fort Hood, Texas, 10 Nov 2009|
The signs of grief are not hard to miss at Fort Hood. Flowers and messages are displayed around the sign at the main entrance and there is a subdued tone on base. But the soldiers carry on and the military family pulls together.
Among the visitors Tuesday was a group of women who all have sons serving overseas in different branches of the military. They came from various parts of Texas to offer support to soldiers and families here.
Rhonda Lyn Anderson has two sons in the armed forces at other posts, but she came here to do what she could.
|A gate at Fort Hood|
"The only thing we can do is offer them hugs and prayers and just let them know that we know how they feel," said Rhonda Lyn Anderson. "But for the grace of God that could be one of mine."
Katy Canfield has a son in the Marines overseas and she says the attack on this army base has affected men and women from all branches of the military.
"They are trained to think about what the enemy outside is going to do to you, but they are really not looking at one of their own attacking them and killing them," said Katy Canfield.
Soldiers here expressed appreciation for the president's visit and the support of civilians who have sent donations to the families of the shooting victims. The 70,000 some people who call Fort Hood home are used to memorial events; some 545 soldiers from this base have died in recent years in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Twenty-one-year-old specialist Chris Love has seen action in Afghanistan, but he says he never expected to confront it here.
"It is a real shock because when we come back from deployment we are expecting nice quiet surroundings where we feel safe again and we can get over what happened when we were overseas and something like this, especially on the base, it really shakes a lot of people, especially new people to the Army," said Chris Love.
But Sergeant Perry Osburn says soldiers remain comfortable on this base and do not worry about another attack.
|Specialist Chris Love |
"We cannot let this make us afraid, you know what I am saying? You just got to keep moving on," said Sergeant Osburn.
This was a day to reflect and to remember those who died, but it was also a day for the army family to come together and to carry on. Flags remain at half staff, but the routine at this large base is back to normal and many soldiers say that is the best tribute they can give to the fallen, to carry on the mission and carry out their duty to the nation.