Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tragedy Strikes HOT...Again

When the tragic events happened last week at Fort Hood, I watched intently on what was unfolding. Not only because of the horrific nature of a lone serviceman shooting his brothers in arms, but also because I lived and worked in Central Texas (also called the Heart of Texas) for six years.

Fort Hood is an Army post that borders small, close-knit towns in Texas you’ve probably never heard of: Harker Heights, Copperas Cove, Belton. Like so many small towns in Texas, they are filled with good people just trying to make a living and raise their kids the best they can.

But last week, I was reminded of small towns I lived and worked in that have suffered through horrendous tragedies just like what happened at Fort Hood.

Killeen, Texas, is due west next to Fort Hood and was the scene of the largest mass-shooting rampage in United States history until the Virginia Tech shootings. In 1991, George Jo Hennard, took his pickup and slammed it into the front of a Luby’s Restaurant. He then proceeded to shoot 43 people, 23 of whom died, before committing suicide.

Waco, Texas, is 30 miles to the north of Fort Hood, and now synonymous with a man named David Koresh. In 1993, Waco suffered through the events that unfolded between the Branch Davidians and the FBI. It doesn’t matter whose side you’re on, people died under tragic circumstances.

If you also count the tower shooting on the University of Texas campus back in 1966 where 13 people were shot dead, you quickly realize that Central Texas has seen it’s share of tragic shootings.

What is so ironic is that after living there for so many years, it’s the last place where such horrific crimes should happen. It’s beyond comprehension how this small, simple, bucolic area of our country has witnessed so much catastrophic, murderous rampage.

The people in these towns that dot the flat, green patchwork landscape along I-35 are good, honest, and God-fearing. Last week we were unfortunately and lugubriously brought back to Central Texas to witness another tragedy.

As we learn more about the disconsolate circumstances surrounding the Fort Hood Massacre, I feel fortunate to have so many good memories of that part of the country, even when tragedy invades.

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