One by one, President Barack Obama spoke the names and told the stories Tuesday of the 13 people slain in the Fort Hood shooting rampage, honoring their memories even as he denounced the “twisted logic” that led to their deaths.
“No faith justifies these murderous and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor,” Obama told the crowd on a steamy Texas afternoon. “And for what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice — in this world and the next.”
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He did not name Maj. Nidal Hasan, the military psychiatrist accused of the killings.
As for the victims and the soldiers who rushed to help them, Obama said, “We need not look to the past for greatness, because it is before our very eyes.” He spoke at a memorial service before a crowd estimated at 15,000 on this enormous Army post.
The president and first lady Michelle Obama began an afternoon of consolation by meeting privately with family members of those killed last week and with those wounded in the attack and their families. Obama used his public remarks to put a human face on those who perished, victims ranging in age from 19 to 62. He also used his platform to speak indirectly to questions about whether the alleged shooter had ties to extremist Islamic ideology.
Thousands upon thousands of people, many of them soldiers dressed in camouflage, gathered to pay their respects and hear the president. The shooting killed 12 soldiers and 1 civilian, injured 29 others and left a nation stunned and searching for answers.
Below the stage where Obama spoke was a somber tribute to the fallen — 13 pairs of combat boots, each with an inverted rifle topped with a helmet. A picture of each person rested below the boots. After the ceremony, Obama walked solemnly along the row of boots, placing a commander in chief’s coin next to each victim’s photo in tribute.