General Robert W. Cone

Speech at the Fort Hood Memorial Service

delivered 10 November 2009

 

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[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio.]

President and Mrs. Obama, Governor Perry, Secretary Gates, General Shinseki, Governor Doyle, Members of Congress, Secretary McHugh, Admiral and Mrs. Mullen, General and Mrs. Casey, Sergeant Major of the Army Preston, distinguished visitors from our nation's capital and the state of Texas, soldiers, civilians, and most of all families and friends: Thank you for being with us today.

Today we gather to mourn the loss of 13 American heroes. Drawn from eleven different states across this nation, they answered the call of service to others. They ranged in age from 19 to 62. Three were women; ten were men. Among them, they had 19 children, and one of them had a child on the way.

They had hobbies that ranged from playing the guitar and drums to snowboarding. Each of them brought joy to their friends and families. But the biggest trait they had in common was to volunteer to be part of something bigger than themselves and serve our great nation. In doing so they became members of our extended Army family.

Our hearts and prayers go out to those families who have born the loss of this terrible tragedy. No words can ever fully address your grief and sadness. But it is important to know that you are not alone. Others share some part of the tremendous sense of loss that you feel. I want every family member to know that our Army family deeply mourns the loss of your loved ones. The Fort Hood community shares your sorrow as we move forward together in the spirit of resiliency.

Fort Hood and central Texas are home to one of the largest concentrations of soldiers and families in our Army. We have tremendous pride in our soldiers exceptional character, competence, and commitment. We will never be accustomed to losing one of our own. But we can more easily accept it when it happens on foreign soil against an -- a known enemy. 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, a place where soldiers feel secure.

Even so, soldiers do what soldiers do best. They take care of each other in time of need. At the incident scene there were many acts of courage and bravery. Just by soldiers remembering their training, lives were saved. Were it not for their remarkable abilities, this incident could have been far worse. Some soldiers, many wounded, performed first aid on their battle buddies before worrying about receiving treatment for themselves. Many had never met prior to that day but became forever linked by this tragedy. They all came together at a place and time on November 5th, doing their duty for the Army, for their families, and for the American people.

Our soldiers live, work, serve, and fight as teams. The currency of our profession is a bond of trust and a deep sense of caring about each other. The nature of our business demands that we rise above the fear and doubt generated by this horrific event.

In times like these, our Army family and surrounding community pulled together in selfless service. There were countless instances of our steadfast Fort Hood and central Texas community showing its support in the hours that followed this incident. We will always remember the brave and committed action of the first responders at the crime scene. The medical professionals from our area hospitals treated the wounded with the utmost -- utmost care and concern. There were donations of food and lodging to families traveling from out of state. The community answered the call when there was a need for blood to help the wounded. These are just a few examples of the generosity of our friends and neighbors.

Nothing can erase our grief over the loss of the loved ones we honor here today. But our commitment to our country, our Army, and our families will help us move forward together. From this day on we must renew our -- our resolve and commitment to our mission. This Army and the fine men and women who are our Army remain the firmly committed to fight and win our nation's wars. They, along with the families who love and care for them, are determined to provide enduring service to our nation. As we remember the victims who died here at Fort Hood, may our service be a continuing tribute to each of them.

May God bless you, may God bless our soldiers' families and the United States of America.


Book/CDs by Michael E. Eidenmuller, Published by McGraw-Hill (2008)

Also in this database: Barack Obama -- Address at the Fort Hood Memorial Service

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