President Barack Obama returned to the grieving Army post Wednesday where he first took on the job as the nation's comforter five years ago, mourning at Fort Hood with families and uniformed comrades of those killed during last week's shooting spree. "We somehow bear what seems unbearable," he declared.
It was yet another sad observance for a president who has had to deliver words of consolation across the nation during his more than five years in office. At Fort Hood, the ceremony was made more poignant as a remembrance for soldiers who didn't die in wars abroad but in the safety of their own compound.
"They were members of a generation that has borne the burden of our security for more than a decade of war," Obama said.
Four soldiers, including the suspected gunman, died and 16 were wounded in the rampage last Wednesday.
Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrived late Wednesday morning at Fort Hood. Flags were lowered to half-staff at the sprawling Army base in central Texas, where Obama met with victims' relatives before offering his public condolences.
The memorial took place at the same spot on the base where Obama eulogized victims of another mass shooting in 2009.
Three battle crosses, helmet-topped rifles above combat boots, stood in front of the speakers' platform, representing the three soldiers shot and killed. Officials say they died following a shooting rampage by Army Spc. Ivan Lopez, who took his own life.
"We must honor these men by doing more to care for our fellow Americans living with mental illness, civilian and military," Obama said. "Today four American soldiers are gone. Four Army families are devastated. As commander in chief, I'm determined that we will continue to step up our efforts to reach our troops and veterans who are hurting, to deliver to them the care that they need and to make sure we never stigmatize those who have the courage to seek help."