Yes, the families of those lost will love them for eternity and their memories will never be forgotten. It was a speech that might have been appropriate for a chaplain to deliver. But is that what the members of the Army needed to hear from their Commander-in-Chief? In fact the Chaplain's speech was more forceful and encouraging; gave those who memorialized the fallen with a purpose to move forward.
The President opened his speech by saying, "In our lives, our joys, and in our sorrows, we have learned that there is a time for every matter under heaven. We laugh and we weep; we celebrate and we mourn. We serve in war and we pray for peace. But Scripture also teaches that alongside the temporal, one thing is eternal. Love bears all things; believes all things; hopes all things; endures all things. Love never ends ... It is love, tested by tragedy, that brings us together again."
That's a nice sentiment. But where is his comfort to the families that their loved ones' lives meant something? Where is his pride in his Army? Where is his solemn pledge that such a senseless tragedy need never happen again, because as the Commander-in-Chief, he will make sure that our warriors are able to protect themselves? Instead, he tells them that we draw strength from them, the families, because we see that eternal truth, "love never ends." He acknowledges that they gave their sons to America, in service, and they will always honor them. So, too, he says, will the nation that they served. How about him, their Commander-in-Chief? Does he honor them and their service? He finishes by saying that they will never stand alone, "because this Army, and this nation stands with you, for all the days to come." Again, I ask ... but do you, Mr. President?
He finished by addressing "the men and women of Fort Hood. Part of what makes this so painful, is that we've been here before. Soldiers were struck down here at home, where they are supposed to be safe. We still do not exactly know why, but we do know this.... we must honor their lives, not in word or talk, but in deed, and in truth. We must honor these men with a renewed commitment to keep our troops safe -- not just in battle, but on the home front, as well..... We can never eliminate every risk, but as a nation, we can do more to counsel those with mental illness; to keep firearms out of the hands of those experiencing such deep difficulties." Really?!? How about, we make a renewed commitment to not leave them like sitting ducks for anyone who wants to cause them harm?
He continued with the "mental illness" excuse for this tragedy, instead of declaring what I'm sure everyone of the 3,000 people in attendance were at least thinking. "If only we could defend ourselves...". And as if to drive home his refusal to address this possible solution, he finished his speech with, "As Commander-in-Chief, I am determined that we will continue to step up our efforts to reach our veterans who are hurting; to deliver to them the care that they need; and to make sure that we never stigmatize those who have the courage to seek help. He ended his speech by repeating his "love endures all things" theme, which left me cold and hurting for the families.
They deserved so much more. Their loved ones deserved more. Our military deserves more. They are entitled to be able to protect themselves. They put their lives on the line for us each day they put on the uniform. We ask them to put themselves between us and the enemy, and they accept that they may make the ultimate sacrifice. But they should not be left defenseless within a confined area that leaves them vulnerable, exposed and unprotected from attack. That defies reason!
It is hard to sit here and watch the families suffer as Roll Call is carried out, and there is no answer from Sgt. First Class Daniel M. Ferguson, Staff Sgt. Carlos A. Lazaney-Rodriguez or Sgt. Timothy W. Owens. It is hard to see the anguished faces of their children, and the sobs of their fiances, wives and mothers. It is harder still to think that their deaths will see no change in the ability of their fellow soldiers to protect themselves, or that those who command them refuse to consider the obvious solution. How many more times will we view such memorial ceremonies? How many more families will suffer such a tragedy? We owe them a debt that can never be paid. It's time to stop the madness and allow those who protect us to protect themselves. God Bless them and their families.
Psalm 18:39 "For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me."