On Thursday, November 5, we were all stunned by the reports of violence at Fort Hood. The early reports were fluid and frightening. Multiple shooters were confirmed and then retracted. The shooter was confirmed dead, then that was retracted. What wasn't retracted was the horrid event - a soldier murdering soldiers in an act of terrorism that was despicable beyond belief. The soldier shooter was Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan.
Today, the bodies of the fallen have been moved to Dover. Military investigators and the FBI are putting together the pieces of the puzzle. News organizations are digging up everything they can find - exaggerating some things and downplaying others. Rumors abound from those 'in the know' and those who aren't. We may never know the official findings, as these things fade into the distance as the justice system plays out and people forget.
People have forgotten about the terrorist murders at Camp Virginia in Kuwait on March 23, 2003, when Hasan Akbar threw a grenade into a tent, then shot those who ran out - and in the back - killing Maj Gregory Stone and Capt Christopher Seifert. Akbar, an American soldier, convicted of 2 counts of pre-meditated murder and 3 counts of attempted pre-meditated murder, received the death penalty and is still working his way through the military appeals process. More here.
Should Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan manage to survive his wounds and stand trial, he will have a larger burden of death than Hasan Akbar did. And, he will have the taint of killing people he worked with, as well as those he never knew. I know the military justice system is up to the task of incarcerating and trying him.
At this time, 13 people and one unborn baby have died and 30 were wounded. The fallen and wounded and survivors have roots in all corners of the country, and make this an identifiable event for most of us. One of the wounded is from our community. The fingers of terror reach even further - into the hearts and minds of those who care, who now know that in a place that should be safe, the most horrendous and terrifying acts have taken place.
The stories of fear, the stories of helplessness, the stories of loss are starting to stream out. Along with them, the stories of heroism, of action, of compassion are also being told. Soldier helping soldier - rushing into action and caring for one another - some stories we will hear, others will be private, yet cherished in memory.
Today, George and Laura Bush made a private visit to Fort Hood, to meet with the wounded and the families of the fallen, taking their compassion and love where it was most needed. Once again, they were comforting those who needed them far away from the cameras and reporters. We can all learn a lesson from them about reaching out to those who need us.
Unfortunately, the current President seems incapable of that compassion and has been unable to make a believable or coherent statement about it. He can fly all over the country for day trips to fund raisers and campaign speeches, but he could not go and comfort the people at Fort Hood. He will, however, put himself in the spotlight at a memorial service on Tuesday.
Like most of us, I am still angry and sad and helpless and dumbfounded by this. The terror I felt on Thursday won't soon so away. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone at Fort Hood and with their families and friends.
The soldiers speak out about the attacks:
To read an excellent analysis by my blogger friend, Charles M Grist, read "Lone Wolf" (click here)
Another amazing piece by JR Salzman, who was a patient at Walter Reed - "What is bothering me is the general reaction of our media and those stupid enough to think this was not an act of terrorism..." read the rest here
In days to come, I will pay tribute to each of the fallen, for now, I leave you with their names...
- Lt. Col. Juanita Warman, 55, Havre de Grace, MD
- Maj. Libardo Caraveo, 52, Woodbridge, VA
- Cpt John P Gaffaney, 54, San Diego, CA
- Cpt. Russell Seager, 41, Racine, WI
- Staff Sgt Justin Decrow, 32, Plymouth, IN
- Sgt Amy Krueger, 29, Kiel, WI
- Spc Jason Hunt, 22, Tillman, OK
- Spc. Frederick Greene, 29, Mountain City, TN
- PFC Aaron Nemilka, 19, West Jordan, UT
- PFC Michael Pearson, 22, Bolingbrook, IL
- PFC Kham Xiong, 23, St. Paul, MN
- Pvt Francheska Velez, 21, Chicago, IL
- Michael G Cahill, Cameron, TX [civilian]