President Obama Honors Fallen at Fort Hood, Alludes to Alleged Assailant’s Faith

Nov 10, 2009 3:43pm

During a memorial ceremony at Fort Hood Tuesday afternoon, President Obama said that while it “may be hard to comprehend the twisted logic that led to this tragedy … this much we do know: No faith justifies these murderous and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor. And for what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice – in this world, and the next.” The remarks were a tacit acknowledgment of the Islamic extremist views investigators say were held by the man to be prosecuted for the murders at Fort Hood last Thursday: Major Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist. Most of the president’s remarks were mournful in nature, in the first memorial ceremony of his presidency, as he paid tribute to each victim by naming and giving a brief biography of each one. Mr. Obama told the victims’ loved ones that their memories “will be honored in the places they lived and by the people they touched. 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 left Presidential coins in front of the photographs of each victim, as did the commanding General of Fort Hood, Lt. Gen. Robert Cone. The victims were, as the president described them: • Physician’s assistant and Chief Warrant Officer Michael Cahill, “so committed to his patients” that he was “back at work just weeks after having a heart attack”;
• Major Libardo Eduardo Caraveo, who was helping combat units cope with the stress of deployment;
• Staff Sergeant Justin DeCrow, known as an optimist and a mentor, who married his high school sweetheart;
• Retired Army Major John Gaffaney, a psychiatric nurse preparing to deploy to Iraq;
• Specialist Frederick Greene, a combat engineer and “a natural leader”;
• Specialist Jason Hunt , who re-enlisted for six more years on his 21st birthday while in Iraq;
• Staff Sergeant Amy Krueger who joined the Army shortly after 9/11 and whose mother told her she couldn’t take on Osama bin Laden by herself — to which she replied: “Watch me”;
• Eagle Scout and Private First Class Aaron Nemelka, who signed up for the dangerous task of diffusing bombs;
• Private First Class Michael Pearson, a guitarist whose goal was to be a music teacher;
• VA nurse Captain Russell Seager, who helped veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress;
• Private Francheska Velez, pregnant with her first child;
• Nurse practitioner and Lieutenant Colonel Juanita Warman, a single mother who put herself through college and graduate school;
• Private First Class Kham Xiong, an immigrant from Thailand who was preparing for his first deployment to Afghanistan. “Their lives speak to the strength, the dignity and the decency of those who serve, and that is how they will be remembered,” President Obama said. “These are trying times for our country,” he said, referencing struggles in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. “As we face these challenges, the stories of those at Fort Hood reaffirm the core values that we are fighting for, and the strength that we must draw upon. Theirs are tales of American men and women answering an extraordinary call – the call to serve their comrades, their communities, and their country. In an age of selfishness, they embody responsibility. In an era of division, they call upon us to come together. In a time of cynicism, they remind us of who we are as Americans.” President Obama also said that “here, at Fort Hood, we pay tribute to thirteen men and women who were not able to escape the horror of war, even in the comfort of home.” Aides said he was not suggesting that the massacre was part of the global struggle against extremism, but rather that their deaths resembled the horrors one might meet on a battlefield in Iraq or Afghanistan. -jpt

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