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article imagePresident Obama Speaks at Fort Hood Memorial Service

By Bob Gordon     Nov 10, 2009 in Politics
President Obama has spoken about the tragedy at Fort Hood since before he even knew the details. Today, his remarks at Fort Hood, are the most important remarks he will make on this tragedy.
On November 5, the day of the shootings, the President was scheduled to deliver the final remarks to the Tribal Nations Conference He kept the appointment but spoke of the military:
I would ask all Americans to keep the men and women of Fort Hood in your thoughts and prayers. We will make sure that we get answers to every single question about this horrible incident. And I want all of you to know that as Commander-in-Chief, there's no greater honor but also no greater responsibility for me than to make sure that the extraordinary men and women in uniform are properly cared for and that their safety and security when they are at home is provided for.
The following day he issued an official Presidential Proclamation on the tragedy ordering that the flags at the White House and in all federal facilities be flown at half-mast. However, again, the text focused on the value of military service and the country's gratitude: "Our Nation's thoughts and prayers are with the service members, civilians, and families affected by the tragic events at Fort Hood, Texas. The brave victims, who risked their lives to protect their fellow countrymen, serve as a constant source of strength and inspiration to all Americans."
On Saturday his regular weekly address was again directed to the situation at Fort Hood. Thematically, he remained on the same subjects, the honor of service and the sacrifice of their family members:
Our thoughts are with every single one of the men and women who were injured at Ft. Hood. Our thoughts are with all the families who’ve lost a loved one in this national tragedy. And our thoughts are with all the Americans who wear – or who’ve worn – the proud uniform of the United States of America; our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and coast guardsmen, and the military families who love and support them.
Today is the first military memorial service that Obama will attend as President, and the first at which he will speak. Politically, it is a challenging position also. A Democratic President, who was elected promising to reduce US military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, speaks today having just announced he has narrowed down the debate over Afghanistan to four alternatives, at least one of which will be the additional troops that the Pentagon is pressing for.
The memorial service today was scheduled to start at 2:00 p.m. but was delayed as the President and Mrs. Obama spent extra time speaking to the families' of the victims.
Eventually, the President's remarks began at 2:55 p.m.
Following introductory comments he referred to the thirteen victims: “Neither this country -- nor the values that we were founded upon -- could exist without men and women like these thirteen Americans. And that is why we must pay tribute to their stories. “
He then proceeded to name every one of the fallen and make brief personal remarks directed to each of the victims and their families. He concluded by noting, “These men and women came from all parts of the country....Their lives speak to the strength, the dignity and the decency of those who serve, and that is how they will be remembered.”
After briefly speaking to Iraq and Iran he turned to Veterans' Day. “As we honor the many generations who have served, I think all of us -- every single American -- must acknowledge that this generation has more than proved itself the equal of those who have come before. We need not look to the past for greatness, because it is before our very eyes.”
The President's remarks concluded at 3:15. Following the service the President and Mrs. Obama are scheduled to visit hospitalized service men and women.
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