Obama Offers Solace At Fort Hood Memorial

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) -
Part of a memorial for Carlos Lazaney-Rodriguez of Puerto Rico is set near the stage before a ceremony Wednesday at Fort Hood, Texas. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Part of a memorial for Carlos Lazaney-Rodriguez of Puerto Rico is set near the stage before a ceremony Wednesday at Fort Hood, Texas. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Barack Obama returned to the grieving Army post Wednesday where he first took on the job as comforter in chief five years ago, mourning at Fort Hood with families and uniformed comrades of those killed during last week’s shooting spree. “We somehow bear what seems unbearable,” he declared.

The ceremony was made more poignant as a remembrance for soldiers who didn’t die in wars abroad but in the safety of their own compound. “They were members of a generation that has borne the burden of our security for more than a decade of war,” Obama said.

Three soldiers died and 16 others were wounded in the rampage last Wednesday by another soldier, who killed himself.

Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrived late Wednesday morning at Fort Hood, where the camouflage fatigues of troops standing to salute his passing motorcade almost blended in with the desert terrain. Flags were lowered to half-staff at the sprawling Army post in central Texas, where Obama met with victims’ relatives before offering his public condolences.

The memorial took place at the same spot where Obama eulogized victims of another mass shooting in 2009.

The three soldiers shot and killed were Sgt. Carlos Lazaney-Rodriguez, Sgt. Timothy Owens, Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Ferguson.

Officials say they died after a shooting rampage by Army Spc. Ivan Lopez. Obama was the only speaker to mention four soldiers were lost, including the gunman.

Adding complexity to the president’s remarks were questions about whether Lopez’s wartime service precipitated his actions. Although Lopez did a short stint in Iraq in 2011 and said he suffered a traumatic brain injury, Fort Hood officials have said his mental condition was not a “direct participating factor” in the shooting. Still, the 34-year-old was undergoing treatment for depression and anxiety while being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder, base officials said.

“We must honor these men by doing more to care for our fellow Americans living with mental illness, civilian and military,” Obama said.