Honor veterans home and away
Published: Sunday, November 8, 2009
Updated: Friday, June 15, 2012 23:06
Veterans Day honors those who have served and given the ultimate sacrifice to keep this nation free. The tragedy last week at Fort Hood, Texas, is a reminder how even at home members of the armed services put their lives in harm's way.
Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a psychiatrist who had counseled soldiers on the horrors of combat, walked into a deployment processing center last Thursday in Fort Hood. It was filled with hundreds of soldiers preparing to head overseas. None of them were armed.
Hasan pulled out two semi-automatic pistols and screamed out "Allahu akbar" (Arabic for "God is great") before opening fire. In just four minutes he killed 13 people and wounded 31 more.
It could have been a lot worse without the heroics of Kimberly Munley, a 34-year-old civilian police officer and mother of one who worked at Fort Hood. She happened to be close to the scene and rushed to intervene when she heard of the situation.
She encountered Hasan and opened fire, rather than seek cover, in order to draw his attention. She was shot three times but was able to hit him four times, ending the massacre.
Others did what they could to save lives. Pvt. 1st Class Marquest Smith was able to run outside the first time that Hasan had to pause to reload. Hearing the cries of the wounded inside he turned around and went back in even as shooting resumed, dragging two wounded to safety. He then went back in again, this time running into the shooter and fleeing outside.
Soldiers and civilians made tourniquets, aided the wounded and did what they could to comfort those in shock. Medics quickly arrived and treated everyone, even the man who moments ago had been trying to kill their fellow Americans. Among the dead were an Iraq war veteran who had been married just two months, and a pregnant woman who had also just returned from Iraq. Victims ranged in age from 19 to 62.
In the days to follow blame will be assigned as people try to figure out how this could happen. There will be arguments about warning signs that were ignored, political correctness and Islam, and perhaps even the gun control policies regulating Army bases.
While relevant, all these questions won't change what has already happened.
Come this Veterans Day, families will bury their husbands, wives, brothers, sisters and best friends and try to come to terms with the horror that unfolded last week. Like the suffering of all those who have lost someone in war during the last eight years, the process will be long and painful. This Veterans Day, keep them in your prayers as we honor all those who have served.