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LJWorld.com weblogs Tales from the long road. . .

Ft. Hood, TX 7 November 2009

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Driving through the III Corps gate off of 190 this morning, I came to the realization that Ft. Hood is different today. . .yes, the news trucks at the visitor center, and the satellite vans parked on the Headquarters parade ground is an indicator that something big has happened here. But the mood is different, too.

In the 14 years of working at Ft. Hood for two to three weeks at a time, I've become quite familiar with the greater Ft. Hood/Killeen/Harker Heights area. We've always laughed about it, and we've come up with our own pet names for a place we don't really enjoy coming to. This past Thursday changed all of that. . .

At 1:45PM on Thursday, when we were locked in the building that we are working in, we knew "something" was up, but we didn't have any information. In all of the years in the military and working for the military, I've never been locked in a building. When the post alert system came up telling everyone to get inside, we knew something was terribly wrong. It's pretty bad when you have to call back to Lawrence to get information about what's happening where you are.

We slowly begin getting the information, verifying what we were hearing with the guards in our building, and trying to figure out how long the lockdown was going to last. When we realized that the shooting had taken place less than 3/4 of a mile away from us, and we could hear the sirens from the emergency vehicles screaming by, the seriousness of everything begin to sink in.

At about 7:45 we were released from the building and allowed to drive back to the hotel. . .I had plenty of time to check the 17 voicemails from people checking in with me, as the lines of cars were backed up for miles. I noticed several cars pulled off on the medians and people getting out of their cars to help those who had ran out of gas waiting in the lines. What hit me was that EVERYONE was in the same boat, and everyone was helping each other.

There has been a lot made of the folks at Ft. Hood being "a family," and I had never really thought of that before, but it is true. This Band of Brothers in central Texas has been hit in the gut hard, and they are grieving. But they are standing up for each other as well. The communities outside the gates are standing up, too.

As I stood outside yesterday afternoon at 1:34 for the Army installation-wide moment of silence, I thought about this place. It is still not in my top list of "places to be," but I think I will remember for years to come the day that Ft. Hood became a little more well known to the rest of America.

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