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Obama offers solace to nation at Fort Hood

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President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrive for a memorial ceremony, Wednesday, April 9, 2014, at Fort Hood Texas, for those killed there in a shooting last week. (AP) President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrive for a memorial ceremony, Wednesday, April 9, 2014, at Fort Hood Texas, for those killed there in a shooting last week. (AP)
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama get off Air Force One upon their arrival at Robert Gray Army Air Field in Killeen, Texas, Wednesday, April 9.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama get off Air Force One upon their arrival at Robert Gray Army Air Field in Killeen, Texas, Wednesday, April 9.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — President Barack Obama returned to Fort Hood on Wednesday where he first took on the job as the nation's comforter five years ago, mourning with families and the uniformed comrades of those killed during last week's shooting spree. "We somehow bear what seems unbearable," he declared.

It was yet another sad observance for a president who has delivered words of consolation across the nation many times during his years in office. At Fort Hood, the ceremony was made more poignant as a remembrance for soldiers who didn't die in wars abroad but in the safety of their own compound.

"They were members of a generation that has borne the burden of our security for more than a decade of war," Obama said.

Three soldiers died and 16 others were wounded in the rampage last Wednesday by another soldier, who killed himself.

Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrived late Wednesday morning at Fort Hood, where the camouflage fatigues of troops standing to salute his passing motorcade almost blended in with the desert terrain. Flags were lowered to half-staff at the sprawling Army post in central Texas, where Obama was meeting with victims' relatives before offering his public condolences.

The memorial took place at the same spot where Obama eulogized victims of another mass shooting in 2009.

Those close to Obama say he sees his role after a tragedy as fulfilling a ministerial function for the nation. Valerie Jarrett, Obama's senior adviser and longtime friend, said although it's painful for Obama, he understands the importance for the president to show leadership, empathy and strength in times of crisis, and for him to spend time with each family member affected.

"It's hard because it's deeply personal for him," Jarrett said in an interview. "He identifies as a father, as a husband, as a son, as a family member."

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Associated Press writer Emily Schmall contributed to this report

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Follow Josh Lederman at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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