President, Mourners Honor Fort Hood Victims
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
And I'm Michele Norris.
(Soundbite of song, �Taps�)
At Fort Hood, Texas today, a solemn farewell to the 12 soldiers and one civilian who lost their lives last week in a mass shooting.
BLOCK: An estimated 15,000 people turned out for the traditional military ceremony, many in uniform. Family members of the dead wore white ribbons. Service members wounded in the attack arrived on crutches, one in a wheelchair.
NORRIS: In front of the podium stood 13 battlefield crosses, a combat helmet, rifle and a pair of boots to mark each of the fallen.
Colonel MICHAEL LEMKE (U.S. Army Chaplain): Juanita, Michael, John.
BLOCK: Chaplain Michael Lemke calling out the names of the victims in his invocation. Fort Hood commander Lieutenant General Robert Cone spoke to their families, telling them the Army deeply mourns their losses.
Lieutenant General ROBERT CONE (U.S. Army): Fort Hood has lost 545 from its formations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but never did we expect to pay such a high price at home.
BLOCK: President Obama, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, spent time before the ceremony meeting with families. In his remarks at the service, the president offered these words of comfort.
President BARACK OBAMA: Neither this country, nor the values upon which we were founded could exist without men and women like these 13 Americans. And that is why we must pay tribute to their stories.
BLOCK: President Obama then spoke about the victims one by one with personal stories about each. He didn't name the alleged shooter, but he did say this about the attack.
Pres. OBAMA: No faith justifies these murderous and craven acts, no just and loving God looks upon them with favor. For what he has done we know that the killer will be met with justice in this world and the next.
BLOCK: The ceremony concluded with a roll call, another military tradition. Sergeant Major Donald Felt called out names and those present responded. The names of the victims were followed by silence.
Sergeant Major DONALD FELT (U.S. Army): Staff Sergeant Hansen(ph).
Staff Sergeant HANSEN: Here, sir, major.
Sgt. Maj. FELD: Captain Gaffaney. Specialist Taylor.
Specialist TAYLOR: Here, sir, major.
Sgt. Maj. FELD: Specialist Green. Specialist Herd(ph).
Specialist HERD: Here, sergeant major.
Sgt. Maj. FELD: Specialist Hunt.