Obama Prepares to Pay Homage to Fort Hood Victims

(AP)
President Obama is delaying his long-planned trip to Asia by a day so he can attend tomorrow's Memorial Service at Fort Hood and pay homage to the victims of last week's shooting spree.

He and the First Lady will fly to the sprawling Army post in Central Texas on Tuesday morning to visit privately with the families of the 13 personnel shot dead last Thursday. It's an incident Mr. Obama has condemned as "a horrific outburst of violence." Twenty-nine others were wounded in the massacre in which an Army medical officer is suspected of deliberately targeting military personnel in an act of madness or anti-American rage at U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Families are coming in from all over the country," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs of the Memorial Service. He made it clear late last week that Mr. Obama was determined to attend the service no matter what. It means his departure for Asia, originally scheduled for Wednesday, is put off a day.

The president has also already spoken out three times to denounce the attack at Fort Hood.

"It's difficult enough when we lose these brave Americans in battles overseas," he said in his first remarks on the shootings last Thursday. "It is horrifying that they should come under fire at an Army base on American soil."

Mr. Obama is receiving regular updates on the investigation into what motivated alleged gunman Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist and devout Muslim, to open fire on soldiers at a center processing them for service overseas.

The White House is withholding all comments on the investigation, which is being conducted jointly by the Army and FBI. And the president has urged everyone "against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts."

CBSNews.com Special Report: Tragedy at Fort Hood

Since taking office nearly ten months ago, Mr. Obama has met on a number of occasions with the families of military personnel killed in the line of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Aides say it's always a somber and moving experience for the commander-in-chief.

In remarks at the service, he's expected to repeat sentiments expressed last week when he spoke of the men and woman "who put their lives on the line everyday to protect our safety and uphold our values."

"We honor their service, we stand in awe of their sacrifice and we pray for the safety of those who fight and for the families of those who have fallen," said the president last Friday.

Coincidentally, the Memorial Service at Ft. Hood comes a day before the nation observes Veterans Day – to honor all who have made the ultimate sacrifice in America's defense. Mr. Obama will visit Arlington National Cemetery that morning to place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns and deliver a speech Memorial Amphitheater there.

More Coverage of the Tragedy at Fort Hood:

Fort Hood Suspect Awake, Army Says
Counseling for Trauma, Grief at Ft. Hood
Ft. Hood Shooting: Composure Under Fire
Report: U.S. Knew Hasan Sought al Qaeda
Radical Imam's Web Site Praises Hasan
Fort Hood Reflects, but Work Carries On
Hasan Computer Shows No Terror Ties
List of Fort Hood Dead, Wounded


(CBS)
Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow him on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/markknoller.
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