Chicago-area families mourn Ft. Hood dead

November 11, 2009 4:40:48 AM PST
A solemn ceremony at Fort Hood in Texas honored the victims of last week's shooting.Among those killed were two Chicago soldiers were Private First Class Michael Pearson and Private Francheska Velez.

President Barack Obama addressed the families who attended Tuesday's military memorial.

President Obama told each of their stories. And it was in those moments some of the family members who watched the service say that the reality of the tragedy finally began to sink in.

On this day of solemn remembrance, President Obama singled out the 13 who were killed at Fort Hood. They were killed at home, not at war, in a place they thought to be safe.

"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 Obama.

Army Private Franceska Velez from Chicago who was three months pregnant was killed. Private First Class Michael Pearson of West Suburban Bolingbrook, who was preparing for his first deployment, was also killed.

Pearson's brother, Krisopher Craig, watching from the family's home, says the reality of what happened finally hit him on Tuesday when the President mentioned his brother by name.

"Private First Class Michael Pearson loved his family and loved his music and his goal was to be a music teacher," said Pres. Obama during the service.

"The comforting thing is to know that people actually did respect what they were doing, what my brother was doing," said Craig.

Thirteen pairs of boots symbolized the 13 lives lost.

The President also paid tribute to the dozens of wounded, including Staff Sergeant Miguel Valdivia from Elgin.

Born in Mexico, he moved to America when he was 20, and at 26 enlisted in the Army.

Valdivia was shot three times as shown in a cell phone video taken from his Texas hospital shows he was hit in the leg right above the knee. His parents in Texas met the president Tuesday, while his sister and brother in Elgin say Valdivia should be able to walk again with many months of physical therapy. And with a newborn baby at home, they're hoping this will be the end of his nine-year military career.

"We didn't want him to go, so in some ways the positive thing about this is he's going to Iraq right now," said Alma Valdivia, Miguel's sister.


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