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Hood, Nation Pay Tribute to Victims of Post Shooting Spree

By Andrew Evans
American Forces Press Service

FORT HOOD, Texas, Nov. 11, 2009 – The mournful and all too familiar scene of a bugler playing Taps occurred again here Tuesday as the Fort Hood community paid its respects to fallen warriors struck down last week allegedly at the hands of a lone gunman, who also happened to wear an Army uniform.

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Army Lt. Gen. Robert M. Cone, commanding general, III Corps and Fort Hood, addresses the audience during a Nov. 10, 2009, memorial ceremony honoring the fallen heroes who were killed at the Army processing station on Nov. 5, at Ft. Hood, Texas. DoD photo by Cherie Cullen
  

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“No words can ever express our sadness,” Lt. Gen. Robert Cone, III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general said before President Barack Obama took the stage.

“We can never accept the loss of soldiers at home,” Cone added. “Our Army family shares in the loss of your loved ones.”

The general also praised the courage of the soldiers who disregarded their own safety to render aid to others at the scene.

Prior to his public address, the president spoke with many of the survivors and the families of the fallen. Speaking to an estimated 15,000 people at the memorial, Obama vowed that justice will be done in the attack that left 13 dead and 43 wounded.

“No faith justifies these murderous and craven acts,” Obama said, noting that Soldiers who responded to the attack “remind us of who we are as Americans.”

Although the president told the families that “no words can fill the void that has been left,” he added, “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,” the president said.

The Fort Hood community has suffered 545 soldiers killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Cone said, “but never did we expect to pay such a high price at home.”

The Army Chief of Staff, Gen. George Casey, added, “Grieve with us. Don’t grieve for us.

“Those who have fallen did so in the service of their country,” he said. “They freely answered the call to serve, and they gave their lives for something that they loved and believed in.”

The fallen came from 11 different states and from all walks of life to answer the call of service, Cone said, emphasizing their diversity. The deadly incident will motivate Soldiers to renew their resolve and commitment of the military and to win the nation’s wars, the general said.

“May our continued service be a tribute to them,” Cone said.

Like generations before them, President Obama said this generation of servicemembers has paid the price for freedom.

“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.”

At the conclusion of the memorial ceremony, Obama and first lady Michelle Obama laid a presidential coin before each of the 13 battlefield crosses – the helmet, boots and rifle representing each of those killed – before family members and comrades filed past.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imagePresident Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama place a commander-in-chief's coin on the fallen Soldier memorials honoring 13 shooting victims at the conclusion of a memorial ceremony at Fort Hood, Texas, Nov. 10, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jason R. Krawczyk   
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA 1st Cavalry Division bugler plays 'Taps' at the conclusion of a memorial ceremony honoring 13 Fort Hood shooting victims Nov. 10, 2009, outside of the III Corps headquarters building. More than 15,000 family members, guests and troops attended the memorial. U.S. Army photo   
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA woman breaks down crying during a memorial ceremony honoring 13 Fort Hood shooting victims outside the III Corps headquarters building Nov. 10. An estimated 15,000 attended the memorial. U.S. Army photo by Andrew Evans  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageThe family of Spc. Kham S. Xiong, one of 13 slain at Fort Hood Nov. 5, make their way past the battlefield crosses of the fallen following a memorial ceremony Nov. 10, 2009. More than 15,000 attended the memorial outside the III Corps headquarters building, including the families of the fallen who met with President Barack Obama prior to the event. U.S. Army photo by Andrew Evans  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imagePresident Barack Obama speaks during the memorial ceremony at Fort Hood for victims of last week's shooting incident Nov. 10. Held outside the U.S. Army's III Corps headquarters, an estimated 15,000 soldiers, civilians and their families attended the memorial. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jason R. Krawczyk  
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