It is November 5th 2009. Major Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan in less than one month. On this fateful day Major Hasan went on a shooting spree killing 13 people and injuring over 30 more at Fort hood Texas. Shouting “Allahu akbar!” (GOD is great) he shot everyone he possibly could. To this day the Fort Hood gunman continues to inflict pain on his victims, their families, and the American public. Almost four years after the massacre the pain and suffering of the victims is still evident.
U.S. Army Colonel Kathy Platoni was there at Fort Hood when the shooting occurred. She watched a man die in front of her, while she was helpless to save him. It’s an image she can’t forget. Colonel Platoni keeps the names of her fallen friends written inside of her cap.
Army Staff Sergeant Shawn Manning was one of the victims wounded that day. Now retired, he still has two bullets in his body courtesy of Major Hasan. Sergeant Manning still has trouble dealing with crowds because of the shooting.
At the opening of his trial Major Hasan stated “the evidence will clearly show that I am the shooter.” Hasan was thought to be communication with terrorist groups before the attack, and was becoming more radical as time went on.
The United states Government is adding to the mix with their own version of stress, helping add to the problems as the Fort Hood gunman continues to inflict pain.. Senator Joe Lieberman called the event a terrorist attack. A Senate report calls the attack “worst terrorist attack on US soil since September 11, 2001.” Yet government officials still call the attack an act of “work place violence.” This designation gives victims and their families less help in trying to cope with the ordeal than if this were labeled a terrorist attack. Talk about adding true insult to injury.
Now that the trial of Major Hasan has started possibly the cruelest attack on the living victims is yet to come. Hasan will be representing himself at his trial. As his own counsel he will be allowed to cross-examine the very people he shot and tried to kill.
Staff Sargent Alonzo M. Lunsford Jr. understands the victims feelings. He was shot seven times by Major Hasan. Now retired and blinded in one eye because of the shooting, Lunsford will have to deal with the stress of meeting his attacker in court face to face, and answer Hasans questions. “I will be cross-examined by the man who shot me. You can imagine all the emotions that are going to be coming up.”
Every defendant deserves a fair trial, even one with crimes as heinous as Major Hasan’s attack. Every defendant also deserves fair treatment under US law. Major Hasan has managed to take these rights to a new level. Against normal military regulations he has been able to grow a beard because of his Muslim faith. While waiting to hear his faith Hasan still gets his military pay. He will be able to speak directly to his victims during cross examination at his trial. It seems that even behind bars the Fort Hood gunman continues to inflict pain on his victims.
Written by Kevin Reid