In following the court-martial of Maj. Nidal Hasan, I’ve noticed the number 13 seems to pop up a lot.
Hasan killed 13 people.
There are 13 officers on the jury.
The testimony phase of the trial lasted 13 days before moving to the jury for deliberation.
The year Hasan was convicted: 2013.
There are probably more coincidences with that number if I look hard enough. In truth, though, Hasan’s destructiveness can’t be measured by any number.
Hasan was found guilty last Friday of the worst mass shooting on a U.S. military post. Simply put, Hasan committed mass murder on Nov. 5, 2009, gunning down fellow soldiers in cold blood as they waited to be medically processed prior to deployment.
On Monday, family members of those killed began to tell their stories of how the loss has ruined their lives.
Cindy Seager spoke of her husband, Capt. Russell Seager, who was one of the 13.
“I’d known him for 30 years,” she said. “I had to learn to be independent again, find things to do. It’s getting better, but it’s difficult.”
Shoua Her spoke of her husband, Pfc. Kham Xiong.
“We had talked about how excited we were to purchase our first home,” she said. “We talked about vacations and places we wanted to go visit. And all that was stripped away from me. Our daughter will not have her dad to walk her down the aisle. My two sons will never have their dad to take them fishing or (teach them) sports or how to be a gentleman.”
Gripping testimony was not limited to wives, but fathers. too.
Juan Velez spoke of his daughter, Pvt. Francheska Velez, 21 and pregnant, who cried “My baby! My baby!” when she was shot to death.
“That man did not just kill 13, he killed 15. He killed my grandson and myself,” Velez said. “It hurt me to the bottom of my soul.”
Hasan didn’t only end the lives of 13 people that day, he changed the lives of countless future generations.
Sons and daughters will never be born. Birthdays of the survivors will continue, but they will never be fully attended. Graduations, anniversaries, family vacations, and even simple picnics won’t ever be the same.
The history books will show that 13 lives were lost.
However, we may never know the true number of lives destroyed.