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Fort Hood Purple Heart Ceremony Honors Survivors Of 2009 Shooting


After five-and-a-half years, there is now full recognition for the victims of the shooting rampage at Fort Hood in Texas. It was the deadliest mass shooting on a U.S. military base. Thirteen people were killed and more than 30 others were injured. Kate McGee, of member station KUT, reports on a ceremony that honored victims and marked a change of course by the military.

KATE MCGEE, BYLINE: At Fort Hood today, the mood was somber, the air chilly and the sky cloudy.


MCGEE: Retired General Robert Cone was the post commander in 2009 when the shooting happened. He called this ceremony a day of victory.


ROBERT CONE: Today is about fully documenting and acknowledging your sacrifice for this great nation.

MCGEE: Victims, or families of victims, accepted the awards. Forty-two Purple Hearts were awarded. Two civilians received the Defense of Freedom Medal. Attendees say the ceremony is a good step recognizing the gravity of the shooting, but they say it took too long. Sergeant Eric Jackson was one of the Purple Heart recipients.

ERIC JACKSON: It's kind of hard not to be bitter because you wonder, where's the respect? Where is the recognition? Where is the support for what you've gone through and what you're continuously going through?

MCGEE: The Army originally classified the shooting as workplace violence, even though former Major Nidal Hasan claimed he did it in the name of jihad. Texas lawmakers pushed the Army to change the criteria, allowing victims to get a Purple Heart and compensation. Earlier this year, that happened. Now it includes events in which the perpetrator was in contact with a terrorist group or the attack was inspired by a terrorist organization. Senator John Cornyn helped push for the change.


SENATOR JOHN CORNYN: What happened here at Fort Hood was a terrorist act on American soil.

MCGEE: No one at the ceremony talked about Hasan. He was sentenced to death and is at Fort Leavenworth awaiting appeals. For NPR News, I'm Kate McGee. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Kate is the education reporter at KUT, covering the Austin Independent School District, public, and higher education in Texas. She got her public radio start at Fordham University's WFUV. Her voice has been heard on the East and West coasts as a reporter and producer for WNYC and KUNR in Reno, Nevada. She has also appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, The Takeaway and more. In her spare time, Kate enjoys discovering new music, traveling and trying local beers.