Victims of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting will receive the Purple Heart in a ceremony Friday morning in the culmination of a yearslong battle to designate the shooting spree as an act of terrorism.
Forty-seven medals — either the Purple Heart for military or Defense Medal of Freedom for civilians — will be presented during the ceremony to victims who were injured or the families of those who were killed in the attack, according to a release from the Texas military base.
Last year’s annual defense policy bill opened the door for victims of Army Maj. Nidal Hasan’s shooting spree to finally receive the award by saying the attack was part of the broader war on terrorism, overriding the administration’s classifying it as a matter of workplace violence.
Hasan shouted “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for “God is great,” while going on his shooting spree that left 13 dead and more than 30 injured. The American-born Muslim was receiving assistance from foreign terrorist sources, and an FBI investigation found he had been emailing with Anwar al-Awlaki, an al Qaeda leader, he said during testimony.
Hasan was sentenced to death in 2013, but the appeals process is expected to last years.
The Purple Heart can be awarded to members of the military who are killed by an enemy in battle or wounded severely enough to see a doctor. The controversy over presenting the medal to victims of the Fort Hood shooting is some didn’t believe the base near Killeen, Texas, is an “official battlefield.”