Obama Leads Mourners At Fort Hood Memorial

At stricken Fort Hood, President Barack Obama Tuesday shouldered the role of America's national healer, as a country rose above its deep divisions in a moment of shared mourning. Weaving a stirring parable of national
obama leads mourners at fort hood memorial -...
PTI November 11, 2009 9:14 IST

At stricken Fort Hood, President Barack Obama Tuesday shouldered the role of America's national healer, as a country rose above its deep divisions in a moment of shared mourning.

Weaving a stirring parable of national sacrifice, Obama metaphorically enshrined 13 victims of last week's massacre on this giant military base with a new generation of US war dead from Iraq and Afghanistan "who now belong to eternity."

Many in the 15,000 strong crowd of soldiers in camouflage fatigues and civilians dressed in black meanwhile quietly mourned their fallen brethren, still unable to quite believe the horror of what is believed to be the worst-ever mass shooting at a US military base.

Framed by wailing bagpipes and a mournful rendition of "Amazing Grace", Obama dwelt on the savage irony that those gunned down, allegedly by a troubled Muslim comrade, died not at war but in a supposed safe haven.

"These Americans did not die on a foreign field of battle," Obama said, as he eulogized the 12 service personnel and one civilian killed.

"They were killed here, on American soil."

"It is this fact that makes the tragedy even more painful, and even more incomprehensible."

Some observers said Obama's poetic remarks amounted to the best speech of his presidency, and the latest in a sequence of poignant oratory, which helped power his stunning rise to the pinnacle of US politics.

Melding his roles as commander-in-chief and chief national mourner, Obama, who recently flew to a Delaware air base to watch fallen US soldiers return home, drew comparisons between Fort Hood victims and other young war dead.

In another poignant twist, his eulogy at Fort Hood came a day before November 11, Veterans Day, when Americans remember the fallen of current and past wars.

"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," Obama said.

"We need not look to the past for greatness, because it is before our eyes."

Ministering to Americans, almost like a national pastor, is a task that periodically falls to American presidents, and the speeches US leaders make at moments of national grieving are often remembered as their greatest rhetoric.

 
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