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U.S. President Barack Obama led a public memorial on Tuesday to each of the 13 people killed in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas last week. The president told each victim's story at a service at the massive Army post.
An estimated 15,000 mourners gathered in the warm sunshine, where President Obama told the families of those who were slain that their loved ones endure through the life of their nation.
"Every evening that the sun sets on a tranquil town, every dawn that a flag is unfurled, every moment that an American enjoys life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - that is their legacy," said President Obama.
Mr. Obama honored the 12 soldiers and one civilian who died by telling a short, personal story about each one.
"Staff Sergeant Amy Krueger was an athlete in high school, joined the Army shortly after 9/11 [September 11, 2001], and had since returned home to speak to students about her experience," said Mr. Obama. "When her mother told her she could not take on Osama bin Laden by herself, Amy replied: 'Watch me.'"
Mr. Obama also praised the heroism of the soldiers who rushed to help the fallen.
"Amber Bahr was so intent on helping others that she did not realize for some time that she, herself, had been shot in the back," said President Obama. "Two police officers - Mark Todd and Kim Munley - saved countless lives by risking their own."
The president did not mention the alleged shooter, Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Malik Hasan, by name. But he condemned the shootings and spoke indirectly to questions about whether Hasan had ties to extremist Islamic ideology.
"No faith justifies these murderous and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor," said Mr. Obama. "And for what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice - in this world and the next."
Hasan is in stable condition, after being shot by a civilian police officer. Soldiers reported that Hasan shouted the Arabic phrase for "God is Great" before opening fire.
On display at the memorial service was a portrait of each of the 13 people who died in the shooting, accompanied by a symbolic pair of boots with an upended rifle topped with a helmet.
After speaking, President Obama and his wife Michelle silently paid their respects to each of the fallen, laying a presidential coin, a military tradition.
Before the service, the Obamas met with the families of those killed in the attack, then with some of the 29 people who were wounded and their families. Later, the president and his wife went to a military hospital to talk with those recovering from injuries.
The president has promised a full investigation of the shootings. U.S. officials say a Defense Department worker on a terrorism task force had looked into Hasan's background months ago and decided that he did not require further investigation.
Mr. Obama delayed his trip to Asia to attend the Fort Hood memorial.
The ceremony took place one day before Veterans Day, a national holiday in which Americans pay tribute to their countrymen who served in the armed forces.
On Wednesday, the president is scheduled to meet with his top advisers on Afghanistan war strategy. He will also lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery.