WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama, seeking to reassure a nation shaken by the mass shooting on an Army post in Texas, said Saturday that the training designed to keep U.S. forces safe abroad prevented further deaths and ended a rampage at Fort Hood.
Praising what he called the heroism that ended gunfire on the nation's largest army post, the president described the exchange that left 13 dead and 30 others wounded on Thursday a tragedy.
In his weekly radio and Internet address on the weekend before Veterans Day, Obama praised those who serve or have served in uniform and reminded the public of their diversity — a move designed to calm tensions around the suspected shooter, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan.
"They are Americans of every race, faith and station. They are Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and nonbelievers," Obama said. "They are descendants of immigrants and immigrants themselves. They reflect the diversity that makes this America. But what they share is a patriotism like no other."
Calls for patience
Obama called for patience while officials piece together what happened.
"We cannot fully know what leads a man to do such a thing," Obama said. "But what we do know is that our thoughts are with every one of the men and women who were injured at Fort Hood. Our thoughts are with all the families who've lost a loved one in this national tragedy."
But Obama said while "we saw the worst of human nature on full display, we also saw the best of America."
"We saw soldiers and civilians alike rushing to aid fallen comrades, tearing off bullet-riddled clothes to treat the injured, using blouses as tourniquets, taking down the shooter even as they bore wounds themselves," Obama said.
"We saw soldiers bringing to bear on our own soil the skills they had been trained to use abroad — skills that been honed through years of determined effort for one purpose and one purpose only: to protect and defend the United States of America."
President will attend memorial service
Obama's aides, meanwhile, worked to make way for Obama to attend a still unscheduled memorial service. The White House's top spokesman said Obama would attend that service and emphasized it would take place at the family's convenience and that it will not be dictated by the president's schedule.
Fort Hood profiles "When a service is scheduled, the president will attend," Robert Gibbs told reporters during his daily briefing.
Later Saturday, Obama planned to make remarks to reporters in the Rose Garden before departing to the presidential retreat at Camp David for a night away from Washington. He planned to leave Wednesday for a 10-day trip to Asia.
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