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FORT HOOD, Texas (USA TODAY) -- Same spot. Similar tragedy. Echoed sad words.

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday afternoon paid tribute to the the three people killed and 16 injured in a gun rampage last Wednesday.

In front of the podium stood three sets of boots, rifles and Kevlar helmets.

Obama says the nation is drawing strength from relatives of the victims and that the tragedy tears at wounds that are still raw from a deadly mass shooting on the sprawling Army post five years ago.

The ceremony took place on the same lawn where, 5½ years ago, a similar vigil was held for the 13 people killed and more than 30 injured in another on-post attack. In that 2009 incident, Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan fired dozens of rounds inside a crowded medical processing building, killing and wounding fellow soldiers and civilians. Hasan was convicted last year and sentenced to death.The president attended the 2009 ceremony as well.

Obama's remarks were preceded by an invocation by the III Corps chaplain and remarks by Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army chief of staff, and John McHugh, secretary of the Army. Texas Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz also attended.

Having the Obamas attend in person — though under tragic circumstances — helps the community to heal, said Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin. The city has seen its share of tragedy, he said. Besides the two local massacres, Killeen has buried hundreds of soldiers killed in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"When the president cares enough to come to our community, it speaks volumes about his concerns and the concerns of the nation," Corbin said. "It sends the right signals to our community."

Military criminal investigators this week said Army Spc. Ivan Lopez, 34, fired at least 35 rounds during an eight-minute rampage with a .45-caliber pistol before turning the gun on himself. The shooting followed a verbal altercation over a request for leave by the gunman, according to the military.

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