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Gov. urges community to mutual support

KILLEEN, Texas (BP)–Texas Gov. Rick Perry called for mutual support among soldiers at Fort Hood and residents in Killeen, Texas, in his remarks to a community memorial service Sunday night at First Baptist Church.

Perry, who based his exhortation in the Bible, urged “a sincere compassion for one another” in the wake of an officer’s shooting spree Nov. 5 that left 14 dead, including one pre-born child. “Keep an eye on each other, watch for those who are retreating into sadness, and reach into their lives with encouragement,” the governor counseled.

The text of Perry’s remarks follow:

The decision to serve one’s country is not one easily made but it is, most often, in response to a calling that resonates in a person’s core and persists, undeniable, until answered.

Throughout the course of human history, there has been a need for people of principle to leave behind the comforts of home to take up arms and place their lives between the menacing aggressor and the innocent.

The core values of our democracy were declared by an assembly of thoughtful patriots but they were secured by men of arms at Lexington and Concord, defended on the rolling hills of Gettysburg, and preserved in the chaos of Normandy and Bastogne.

In our lifetime, aggressors have risen and, by our hand, fallen in conflicts far from home. As Americans, we are most familiar with our sons and daughters in uniform heading to distant lands to engage a faceless foe in defense of life, liberty and democracy.

Sadly, this week, violence touched our community here in Texas and lives were lost or altered forever.

As the world looked on in shock and dismay, anguish at the senseless violence turned to admiration for the remarkable response of this close-knit community.

Fort Hood and the communities that surround it are connected by a shared belief in our nation’s fundamental principles and united by a sincere compassion for one another.

That compassion has been strengthened over time as soldiers have journeyed from Fort Hood to the front lines. In their absence, their families make do, relying on one another for support and comfort, strengthening the bond of shared purpose.

It is that community spirit, that commitment to one another that transcends ethnicity, religious background or economic status that will carry us through this trial.

We cannot let outside voices sow dissension among our ranks or cast aspersions on an entire faith tradition because one adherent committed this monstrosity.

Now, more than ever, we need one another or that mutual support and encouragement that a better day is coming.

We must cling ever tighter to our faith and God’s promises of a life everlasting.

In the tenth chapter of his letter to the Hebrews, Paul wrote, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

Paul knew the nature of life’s trials and persevered through more trouble than nearly any other biblical figure, yet still he clung to hope.

He knew that the love and encouragement of our brothers and sisters in faith are essential in the tough times.

He also knew that the best medicine for fear is to step outside of ourselves, and help others. So he continued writing: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”

Over the past few days, we have seen so many good deeds, from soldiers carrying fellow soldiers to safety to people standing hours in line to give blood.

I encourage you to heal by serving and serving together as you encourage one another.

Paul also knew that the human tendency is to retreat into a defensive crouch when things are tough, to assume that no one understands and no one cares.

He knew that, too often, hurting people mistakenly believe that they’re better off alone.

So he wrote these encouraging words:

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the day approaching.”

So, in the days to come, continue to meet and spend time with your friends and loved ones, your coworkers and your fellow soldiers.

Keep an eye on each other, watch for those who are retreating into sadness, and reach into their lives with encouragement.

Because we know that day is approaching, when we’ll gather in the heavenly realms together reunited with those who have gone before us, worshiping together in the radiance of God’s love.

Until that time, we cast our burdens on Jesus because He cares for us and will comfort us along the way.

On behalf of more than 24 million Texans, I say this: We are deeply saddened by your loss. You are, daily, in our thoughts and we wish a speedy recovery for injured bodies and broken hearts.

May the Lord bless you and keep you; may He make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.

Compiled by Baptist Press staff.

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