WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said more must be done to improve the safety and health of U.S. troops both in the war zones and at home. Obama made his remarks at a ceremony paying tribute to the victims of the April 2 shooting in Fort Hood, Texas, on Wednesday. The president's visit to Texas will also include attending the commemoration of 50 years since the signing of the historic U.S. Civil Rights Act.
Love was the central theme of President Obama's speech Wednesday at a memorial ceremony for three servicemen killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood earlier this month. He said it was love for their country that inspired these soldiers to join the Army, and love that will help their families overcome the grief surrounding their loss.
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends,” said Obama.
Last week, a disgruntled solder killed himself and three others at Fort Hood, where an Army psychiatrist killed 13 people in a shooting spree in 2009. President Obama said the latest tragedy reopens the old wounds and that more needs to be done to secure U.S. military facilities.
"In our open society, and at vast bases like this, we can never eliminate every risk. But as a nation, we can do more to help counsel those with mental health issues, to keep firearms out of the hands of those who are having such deep difficulties. As a military, we must continue to do everything in our power to secure our facilities and spare others this pain," said Obama.
Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno said it is not clear why wartime hardships make some soldiers stronger, while others struggle with the effects. He said the Army will do more to address the problem.
"We will also do everything within our power to investigate every detail, to learn, to adapt and to protect our most valuable resource: the men and women of our U.S. Army," said Odierno.
Secretary of the Army John McHugh praised the victims for their bravery, which he said saved many other lives.
"We may never know how many lives were saved or how many others might have been lost were it not for these heroes. But know this: we are incredibly grateful for their bravery and even more humbled by their selflessness," said McHugh.
On Thursday, President Obama joins former presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in the state capital, Austin, to honor the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. The legislation outlawed racial discrimination in voting, schools, public accommodations, and the workplace.