Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Obama's Fort Hood Speech

We come together filled with sorrow for the thirteen Americans that we have lost; with gratitude for the lives that they led; and with a determination to honor them through the work we carry on.

This is a time of war. And yet these Americans did not die on a foreign field of battle. They were killed here, on American soil, in the heart of this great American community. It is this fact that makes the tragedy even more painful and even more incomprehensible.

For those families who have lost a loved one, no words can fill the void that has been left. We knew these men and women as soldiers and caregivers. You knew them as mothers and fathers; sons and daughters; sisters and brothers.

But here is what you must also know: your loved ones endure through the life of our nation. Their memory 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.

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.
Chief Warrant Officer Michael Cahill had served in the National Guard and worked as a physician's assistant for decades. A husband and father of three, he was so committed to his patients that on the day he died, he was back at work just weeks after having a heart attack.

Major Libardo Eduardo Caraveo spoke little English when he came to America as a teenager. But he put himself through college, earned a PhD, and was helping combat units cope with the stress of deployment. He is survived by his wife, sons and step-daughters.

Staff Sergeant Justin DeCrow joined the Army right after high school, married his high school sweetheart, and had served as a light wheeled mechanic and Satellite Communications Operator. He was known as an optimist, a mentor, and a loving husband and father.

After retiring from the Army as a Major, John Gaffaney cared for society's most vulnerable during two decades as a psychiatric nurse. He spent three years trying to return to active duty in this time of war, and he was preparing to deploy to Iraq as a Captain. He leaves behind a wife and son.

Specialist Frederick Greene was a Tennessean who wanted to join the Army for a long time, and did so in 2008 with the support of his family. As a combat engineer he was a natural leader, and he is survived by his wife and two daughters.

Specialist Jason Hunt was also recently married, with three children to care for. He joined the Army after high school. He did a tour in Iraq, and it was there that he re-enlisted for six more years on his 21st birthday so that he could continue to serve.

Staff Sergeant Amy Krueger was an athlete in high school, joined the Army shortly after 9/11, and had since returned home to speak to students about her experience. When her mother told her she couldn't take on Osama bin Laden by herself, Amy replied: "Watch me."

Private First Class Aaron Nemelka was an Eagle Scout who just recently signed up to do one of the most dangerous jobs in the service - diffuse bombs - so that he could help save lives. He was proudly carrying on a tradition of military service that runs deep within his family.

Private First Class Michael Pearson loved his family and loved his music, and his goal was to be a music teacher. He excelled at playing the guitar, and could create songs on the spot and show others how to play. He joined the military a year ago, and was preparing for his first deployment.

Captain Russell Seager worked as a nurse for the VA, helping veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress. He had great respect for the military, and signed up to serve so that he could help soldiers cope with the stress of combat and return to civilian life. He leaves behind a wife and son.

Private Francheska Velez, the daughter of a father from Colombia and a Puerto Rican mother, had recently served in Korea and in Iraq, and was pursuing a career in the Army. When she was killed, she was pregnant with her first child, and was excited about becoming a mother.

Lieutenant Colonel Juanita Warman was the daughter and granddaughter of Army veterans. She was a single mother who put herself through college and graduate school, and served as a nurse practitioner while raising her two daughters. She also left behind a loving husband.

Private First Class Kham Xiong came to America from Thailand as a small child. He was a husband and father who followed his brother into the military because his family had a strong history of service. He was preparing for his first deployment to Afghanistan.

These men and women came from all parts of the country. Some had long careers in the military. Some had signed up to serve in the shadow of 9/11. Some had known intense combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, and some cared for those did. Their lives speak to the strength, the dignity and the decency of those who serve, and that is how they will be remembered.

That same spirit is embodied in the community here at Fort Hood, and in the many wounded who are still recovering. In those terrible minutes during the attack, soldiers made makeshift tourniquets out of their clothes. They braved gunfire to reach the wounded, and ferried them to safety in the backs of cars and a pick-up truck.

One young soldier, Amber Bahr, was so intent on helping others that she did not realize for some time that she, herself, had been shot in the back. Two police officers - Mark Todd and Kim Munley - saved countless lives by risking their own. One medic - Francisco de la Serna - treated both Officer Munley and the gunman who shot her.

It may be hard to comprehend the twisted logic that led to this tragedy. But 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.

These are trying times for our country. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, the same extremists who killed nearly 3,000 Americans continue to endanger America, our allies, and innocent Afghans and Pakistanis. In Iraq, we are working to bring a war to a successful end, as there are still those who would deny the Iraqi people the future that Americans and Iraqis have sacrificed so much for.

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.

We are a nation that endures because of the courage of those who defend it. We saw that valor in those who braved bullets here at Fort Hood, just as surely as we see it in those who signed up knowing that they would serve in harm's way.

We are a nation of laws whose commitment to justice is so enduring that we would treat a gunman and give him due process, just as surely as we will see that he pays for his crimes.

We are a nation that guarantees the freedom to worship as one chooses. And instead of claiming God for our side, we remember Lincoln's words, and always pray to be on the side of God.

We are a nation that is dedicated to the proposition that all men and women are created equal. We live that truth within our military, and see it in the varied backgrounds of those we lay to rest today. We defend that truth at home and abroad, and we know that Americans will always be found on the side of liberty and equality. That is who we are as a people.

Tomorrow is Veterans Day. It is a chance to pause, and to pay tribute - for students to learn of the struggles that preceded them; for families to honor the service of parents and grandparents; for citizens to reflect upon the sacrifices that have been made in pursuit of a more perfect union.

For history is filled with heroes. You may remember the stories of a grandfather who marched across Europe; an uncle who fought in Vietnam; a sister who served in the Gulf. But 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.

This generation of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen have volunteered in a time of certain danger. They are part of the finest fighting force that the world has ever known. They have served tour after tour of duty in distant, different and difficult places. They have stood watch in blinding deserts and on snowy mountains. They have extended the opportunity of self-government to peoples that have suffered tyranny and war. They are man and woman; white, black, and brown; of all faiths and stations - all Americans, serving together to protect our people, while giving others half a world away the chance to lead a better life.

In today's wars, there is not always a simple ceremony that signals our troops' success - no surrender papers to be signed, or capital to be claimed. But the measure of their impact is no less great - in a world of threats that no know borders, it will be marked in the safety of our cities and towns, and the security and opportunity that is extended abroad. And it will serve as testimony to the character of those who serve, and the example that you set for America and for the world.

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. Later today, at Fort Lewis, one community will gather to remember so many in one Stryker Brigade who have fallen in Afghanistan.

Long after they are laid to rest - when the fighting has finished, and our nation has endured; when today's servicemen and women are veterans, and their children have grown - it will be said of this generation that they believed under the most trying of tests; that they persevered not just when it was easy, but when it was hard; and that they paid the price and bore the burden to secure this nation, and stood up for the values that live in the hearts of all free peoples.

So we say goodbye to those who now belong to eternity. We press ahead in pursuit of the peace that guided their service. May God bless the memory of those we lost. And may God bless the United States of America.

17 comments:

Shaw Kenawe said...

It was a beautiful, sensitive speech.

But certain elements on the Right still believe that Mr. Obama is responsible, somehow, for the Ft. Hood deaths.


Sigh.

Tom said...

Great speech!

James' Muse said...

I think there will always be a sad fringe.

But I've read others on the right that give grudging respect for the speech.

I think this was the best speech Obama has given. There was no "I"s in this speech, just "we" and "us" and respect for the dead.

Those who bash the speech also are disrespectful to those men and women in uniform that lost their lives that day.

In Care You Care! said...

Obama's Disgraceful Response to the Ft. Hood Shootings
President Obama has the ability to be eloquent when he wants to, and he DID NOT display eloquence during his press conference. He displayed NO COMPASSION and NO SYMPATHY for the injured soldiers and the murdered soldiers and their families. This incident called for our president to respond properly. He did not. Our Dear Leader did not display any emotions of shock or horror in response to this horrific incident. Our president disgusts me so much. Hasan, the shooter, screamed "Allah Akbar" which means "Allah is great" and "God is Great." Hasan is a Muslim. This is plain and simple. This was an act of DOMESTIC TERRORISM. There is no denying that fact. The MSM is trying to spin this act of DOMESTIC TERRORISM as an incident that occurred due to PTSD. He did NOT have PTSD. He had NOT served overseas. Hasan was honoring Allah and his Muslim religion. This Muslim religion is NOT the religion of peace. This was an act of Domestic Terrorism and Obama failed to call this sickening act for what it really was. Is this further evidence of what Obama's true religion is? With each waking day, Obama continuously attacks Christian beliefs and the morality related to the faith, displays such a detached and inadequate response to acts of Muslim terrorism committed against our soldiers, and dithers on making a decision on whether or not to send more troops to Afghanistan. These examples are further proof that Obama is NO CHRISTIAN. My thoughts and prayers go out to all the soldiers and families effected by this tragedy that was perpetrated at Ft. Hood Texas

The Real Truth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
James' Muse said...

In Care you Care:

You obviously didn't listen to the speech or read its transcript here. Seems you are regurtitating that which you have been told, much like a three year old would.

You disgrace those who died at Ft Hood. Obama gave each one individually their own tribute.

But you want to turn it into something political.

Grow up.

Susannah said...

Lovely speech. Nice touches referencing each person individually. Well done, Mr. President. You've proven to be a nice speaker again...

I submit the following, which appears to've been true all along w/ BHO: anybody w/ charisma & camera-friendly face can schmooze out somebody else's words. Anybody can be coached on how to feign 'appropriate' emotional response & somber tenor when delivering a rehearsed eulogy.

But James, before you dismiss ICYC's comment as immature or disgraceful, consider what he/she's really talking about. In the moment of discovery of the massacre (which is what it was; it was NOT a tragedy, it was a TERRORIST act perp'd by a self-proclaimed SOA - soldier of Allah), Mr. Obama took the stage at a Native American Conference. It was his first opportunity to appear before the country in the massacre's immediate aftermath. And it took him 60 FULL SECONDS to even MENTION the act about which we were all breathlessly awaiting his comments. A FULL 60 seconds: wherein he casually thanked his staff, conference organizers, gave congratulations to attendees for their 'extremely productive conference' and also gave a 'shout out' to some medal winner!! ---- NONE of which was as critical as 12 DEAD soldiers, massacred in cold blood, perp'd by one of our own personnel, who, btw just happened to be muslim & happened to have SCREAMED ALLAH AKBAr seconds before he blew his fellow soldiers away.

No Shaw, elements on the Right - not this one anyway - do not believe that Mr. O is "responsible somehow" for the Ft. Hood deaths. I do believe, however, that he is responsible to lead this nation in times of crisis - which was certainly during the afternoon of last Thursday.

I, frankly, don't give a @#$% what he said at the Memorial Service. He could have sung The Rainbow Connection while dancin' the Charleston, for all I care.

See, what you're all missing is that leadership, strength & compassion is defined by what a person does/says when they're operating out of their own spontaneous, raw character. That's what matters, not some eloquence dribbled into a microphone, read off a teleprompter.

We (his people) were fearful; we were scared about what happened & were all replaying tapes of 9-11. We needed immediate, heartfelt response. We needed someone to show he/she would get to the bottom of this thing & NOT make excuses.

We needed what Martin Buber calls "the I/thou relationship" moment - where one intimately identifies with another's circumstances in order to effect some bit of reciprocal bonding or transformative healing (Gestalt Theory).

And this guy, THIS guy showed himself to be a detached, cool, emotionless (even cavalier), unsympathetic (except to muslims), calculating Disconnect.

You're wrong James, ICYC isn't a disgrace, Barack Obama is the disgrace.

God help us all.

Susannah said...

Fyi James, you inspired me. I sanded off the rough edges & posted it, including a link back here:
http://getbigideas.blogspot.com/2009/11/of-fort-hood-speeches-gestalt-moments.html

Thanks for the clarity!

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

Yesterday, James visited my blog and left this comment:

Two days ago, in my small suburb in Oregon, a man walked into a business and opened fire, killing his estranged wife, injuring two others, and then killed himself with a shotgun. I'm still shaken, because moments earlier my wife drove by this place.

I share a similar experience. Years ago, I lived in Paris France and my daughter was visiting. One day, I took her on a sightseeing tour, passing though the Metro near Notre Dam. An hour later, a terrorist bomb went off … killing over 40 people. My daughter and I dodged that incident … the luck of timing.

A few years later, my daughter graduated from college and went into the Army as a commissioned officer. She was stationed at Fort Hood from where she deployed on the first of four missions to the Mid East. Story here.

I do not have the time or inclination to respond to every expression of Obama Derangement Syndrome, and there are examples here. But I will say this: No matter what he does, there is always someone who will bash him. No matter what he says, there is always someone who will bash him. If he takes a breath before speaking, there is always someone who will bash him. There are reactionary people who parse every word and nuance and find a reason to bash him.

I have no more patience for this crap. It gets tedious, tendentious, and old. But I will quote myself from the above referenced post:

These days, hyper-partisanship respects no boundaries. Sometimes I feel as if we are at war on two fronts: The terrorists who attack us from abroad and the lunatic fringe that assails us at home. We have turned into a nation at war with ourselves when our most cherished beliefs and values, including civil liberties and the rule of law, are no longer considered sacred and sacrosanct, but must be defended on all fronts.

Susannah said...

"I have no more patience for this crap. It gets tedious, tendentious, and old."

It damn well does, doesn't it, Octo: When you've got a president who thinks it's appropriate to give a "shout out" to some @#$% medal winner before he acknowledges to his OWN PEOPLE that another Islamic terrorist attack has occurred on our soil?!

And the only thing his supporters are willing to say - lest they be castigated for thinking for themselves - is, "great speech!" "Beautiful, sensitive speech!" Bravo for our hero! Isn't he wonderful? Isn't he all that we all hoped for?!

THAT, my friend, is what has gotten OLD!

(James, pardon my 'french,' but Octo's story of Paris inspired me.)

In case you're wondering what my complete thoughts on the matter are, Octo, you could visit my post. But you're probably not interested - it might take time away from studying your thesaurus. And you need that to try & intimidate simple minded folks like me, right?

James' Muse said...

Susannah,
The thing I find disturbing in this is that since the moment of inaugeration, and in many cases, since the moment Obama won the election, the right has found fault in absolutely everything done by him. No matter what, they will criticize him. Susannah, I think you've long ago lost your objectivity. Have you ever found something he did good? I highly doubt it. I can't remember on your blog finding anything to praise him for. Ever.

It's Obama Derangement Sydrome, friend. I know I've said it before, but I really think you need to look within yourself and realize that you are suffering from it just as greatly as many on the left were suffering from Bush Derangement.

Susannah said...

James. This president's philosophical demeanor goes against everything I believe in. I do not believe we knew who he was when he was elected. I do not believe that the American people wanted our society 'changed' into a socialist (bordering on fascist) State. When he won the election, I was VERY disappointed - not surprised, mind you, but disappointed. As I said goodbye to that campaign, I did so with a measure of tentative anticipation. But, dear James, ever since then...and I do mean ever since then, this president has been worse than I feared.

As for saying anything 'good' about him...First I'm gratified that you read my blog. Thank you. Second, I write it to express my own thoughts/feelings/intuitions/assessments. And I do not feel obligated to write anything for those who may disagree with my positions. It's about integrity to my cognitive/psychological/political self; of THAT you can be absolutely certain when you read what I write.

However, for your enjoyment & satisfaction that I have - at least on 2 occasions - said anything good about this man...

http://getbigideas.blogspot.com/2008/11/forward-we-go.html

http://getbigideas.blogspot.com/2009/04/he-can-be-taught.html

As for 'derangement,' um, when you see your country being torn apart in front of your very eyes, it does cause a bit of consternation.

As for looking within myself, sweet James (I wonder, do you play anything like Sweet Baby James? My husband really likes him), I have never in my life examined my conservative convictions as deeply, as seriously & as intimately as I have in the past 12 months. What you read on my blog - should you choose to visit again, and I hope you will - is the result.

Thanks for your feedback. Your comments are so noted.

James' Muse said...

I have read those, Susannah, but you seem to have partisan blinders on. Other than on the day Obama was elected and you wrote this:
I’m one like Hewlett, NY who believes that President Bush holds in his heart the best interests of our nation. I believe he is a citizen who has done the best he knew how for our country - out of a true patriot's heart - during a terribly difficult season in our history. Agree or disagree, we owe him respect for that. We would all be better & more noble if we could summon that respect, & perhaps attempt to lay down our anger in the process.


That is what I would like to see from the right. You write that he is the one who is responsible for "your country being torn apart in front of your very eyes" which in reality is only a fear of the right. He hasn't done anything of the sort.

Again, you write " I do not believe that the American people wanted our society 'changed' into a socialist (bordering on fascist) State" but that is only the view of the hard right. The other side doesn't see it that way. He hasn't done a lot that has been socialistic aside from the bailouts (started by Bush, so yeah, he has continued them but they were the brainchild of a 'true patriot') and the healthcare plan, which in reality has let Pelosi take over, but isn't all that socialistic in actuality. Single payer would be, but aside from that it really isn't. As for fascistic, Bush was far more guilty of that. The Fairness Doctrine is the closest Obama has gotten to your fears of 'State Control' (which is what fascism is).

Bush, however, was responsible for the PATRIOT act, the John Yoo Memos, extraoridinary rendition, and 'enhanced interrogation' which is in NO WAY, shape or form, what a truly Christian president would order. Christ would NEVER condone waterboarding, of that I am certain.

So in reality, friend, you are seeing things through a partisan blinder. Obama is not the demon you and the right imagine him to be, just as Bush was not the devil the left imagined him to be nor the saint the right painted him as.

Susannah said...

"but that is only the view of the hard right"

James, I am the hard Right.

"perhaps attempt to lay down our anger in the process." (quote mine)
The Left's criticisms of GWB were on policy, naturally, but with a WHOLE LOT of personal vilification (based on a contentious 2000 election). It snowballed into everything being his fault - no matter how far-reaching (like hurricanes, global 'warming,' NBA playoffs, bad hair days), until it became a joke. But the Left was serious. And so was the MSM. My beef w/ BHO is almost entirely policy-driven & not personal. (For example, I believe he loves his wife & children very much. Good for him.)

I'll reiterate: 'This president's philosophical demeanor goes against everything I believe in.' I will not apologize, feel chastened, nor will I retract my positions just b/c it makes you uncomfortable, James.

If my criticism of him becomes personal, it centers largely on his conduct as head of state (& sometimes his sympathies w/ enemies). He has been uncouth, less than what befits an American president, & bordering on treasonous (apologizing, groveling all over the world, repeatedly bowing in submission to foreign leaders, brewskies on the WH lawn, refusing invitations to important events - Berlin wall, canceling celebrations of Nat'l Day of prayer, etc., etc., etc.,).

I respect the POTUS as an entity. When this man behaves in a manner which is due the office, I'll attribute it to him.

So far, he's getting the respect from me that I believe he deserves.


James, I know you're proud to call yourself a RINO. You want to seem like a conservative, yet you don't want to be called uncompassionate, uncool, or whatever derogatory names people come up w/. But, friend, I frankly don't see the point. You either stand for something or you don't.

You're incorrect in your assessment of my partisanship. You don't know me well enough to make that assumption.

I'm registered Rep. b/c it's the 'line of best fit' in the scatterplot of issues. But I certainly don't approve of, or agree w/ all that the Rep. Pty does (DeDe Scozofavva, sheesh!). That's precisely why I'm not very involved in my local party. I don't want to get pinned down to supporting a candidate just b/c they're Rep.

As for what Jesus would do...I can't say; except that I was not given the authority to make the decisions that were made. Would it have been ok for ME to make those decisions? Probably not, but then I don't have the safety/security of 300 mill. people on my shoulders either. So I think your pulling 'WWJD' is unfair, no matter the Pres...

Btw, I never said GWB was a saint, nor BHO a demon. HOwever, I do believe we are the Titanic heading toward the iceberg. Maybe there's time to turn the ship around. (With so much revisionist history being taught, maybe somebody in the Admin. is convinced that the Titanic DIDN'T actually sink out of willful arrogance.)

James' Muse said...

Susannah: I know you are in the hard right minority. But just because you and others view the Obama presidency as fascistic doesn't make it so. There really aren't any facts whatsoever to back that view up. Just like the hard left thought George W. Bush was a Nazi...doesn't make it the truth. You are sadly, and equally, as mistaken as they were.

Susannah, since you lump yourself in with the hard right, I'm going to point out something else: the hard right does personally attack Obama. All the time. And they don't let facts deter them...apology tour? Not true. The whole bowing thing? Most of the Presidents this century (GOP included) have bowed to some Monarch or another. It's called respect and diplomatic protocol. There are scores of pictures...but Obama HAS done what he is supposed to. Just because he didn't go to the events YOU wanted him to (National Day of Prayer, etc) doesn't make him unfit. It just means that he hasn't done what you would like. Get in line, friend. Every president has either broken promises (Read my lips) or disappointed someone.

As for "brewskies on the lawn" I'd rather have our president share a beer to calm some tensions than dance with Saudi Princes to court Oil Barons.

And finally, as for the RINO thing...it isn't that I don't have principles or don't stand for things. Quite the opposite, in fact. It signifies that yes, I am a Republican, but no, I don't agree with how the current GOP is acting (and has acted) but that I would like to be part of the solution. It means I don't fall lockstep with the hard right. Just as most of the "heroes" of the GOP didn't. Our party cannot afford to kick out the fiscal conservatives just because the social conservatives don't like them. See my previous post "A pure minority is still a minority." The numbers don't add up. If the the party keeps shifting right, it will go the way of the whigs.

Susannah said...

Excuse me. "Get in line"??

Perhaps you didn't read the points I made above:
"I write...to express my own thoughts...I do not feel obligated to write anything for those who may disagree with my positions. It's about integrity to my cognitive/psychological/political self; of THAT you can be absolutely certain" (um, that means I don't stand on queues...)

"I have never in my life examined my conservative convictions as deeply, as seriously & as intimately as I have in the past 12 months."

That's the only line I'll get in, James; a line of people who care deeply about this country & are serious about their convictions b/c they have examined themselves, their country & their world, and have developed their own viewpoints based on such a thorough gleaning.

I have a dear cousin who is in the same position as me, but on the Left. I respect his positions b/c of his seriousness. We vehemently disagree, but respect one another nonetheless. He has never suggested that I 'get in line,' nor I him, as we respect one another enough to trust our convictions.

This is really all I have to say here. I believe what I believe b/c it's who I am. No apologies & no standing in lines. It'll just make me cranky. Take it or leave it; either's fine by me.

James' Muse said...

Susannah, by 'get in line' I meant that there is a long list of people ahead of you that have been disappointed in or disagree with the decisions that a President has made.

I didn't mean to suggest that you don't think for yourself.