The President’s speech at the Fort Hood memorial service this afternoon was a difficult speech to give. Grief is a complicated emotion in any circumstance, but when it is combined with feelings of shock and anger, it is difficult to hit the right emotional balance. President Obama, known for keeping his emotions in check, struck exactly the right note by focusing his words on the lives of those who died in last week’s mass murder, mentioning details about their life and work and, especially, their families. He personalized the loss of those who were killed in an impersonal act of murderous rage.
Most importantly, the President put the sordid act of last week in perspective. He called for justice, not vengeance, and made the important point that the accused will receive all the rights that his victims enlisted and died to protect. His entire speech was a tribute to the military and to their grief. And, he made a specifically theological claim when he said that the perpetrator of this murder would meet justice not only in this life but the next.