As someone who is at Fort Hood, and was there that day, and has had to work very hard cleaning up the aftermath, I appreciate President Obama's thoughtfulness in this matter. I was at Fort Hood, in lockdown when the shooting was going on. I proceeded to work for nearly two days straight with little rest. My job as a public affairs officer is to answer media requests, do interviews, and set interviews up. Believe me there was no time for rest in the first day.
I was there when everyone from Pres. Obama to the CJCS visited. My wife was at the hospital when former President G.W. Bush made an unannounced and low-profile trip to visit the wounded simply out of care, respect, and concern. I was there answering phone calls, emails and letters from people all across the world sending their condolences to our military community. The calls came from Germany, California, Nebraska, Indiana and New York. I was there as I watched Senator John McCain, a hero himself, and Senator Al Franken sit next to each other at a ceremony to honor our fallen. But most importantly I was there as an American to watch as politics and parties were cast away to show respect for the fallen and support for the families and comrades left behind to deal with the aftermath. I’ve heard the amazing life stories of the Soldiers we lost and saw the respect given to those left behind. I have watched as those morals, values and laws that service members have defended with their life are put to the test as we allow the law enforcement officials and courts, not the court of public opinion, to determine guilt or innocence of the accused in such a heinous crime. That is what America is, that is what makes America great. I watched as hands were reached from inside our protected compound to the Islamic community outside our gates to share in our grief. I watched as a battle-hardened Sergeant and combat medic cried as he tried to come to grips with why a religion that gives him peace and the solace to deal with combat was being perverted to justify and laud the actions of the accused killer.
Let’s remember the fallen but let’s not forgot those left behind. The units those soldiers came from will still deploy to combat environments and will return. Ironically and hopefully, never having to encounter any situation of this magnitude on their deployment. Let us not forget the peaceful part of the Islamic community that wishes for justice the same as everyone else and considers this actions deplorable by any human being. My hope is that we will be able to move through this event while showing those great American values of equality, justice, compassion and fairness. My hope is that America’s true colors shine through the clouds of this tragic storm.