President Barack Obama on Thursday afternoon told those affected by last week's fire and deadly explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant that even though the world has been focused on the twin bombings at the Boston Marathon, prayers and support are with the victims of Texas' tragedy.
Though the "eyes of the world may have been fixed on places far away, our hearts have also been here in your time of tribulation," Obama said at a memorial at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, for 12 firefighters killed in the explosion at West Fertilizer Co., in West, Texas, last Wednesday. "You are not alone. You are not forgotten."
That tragedy claimed the lives of 14 and injured more than 200. Investigators continue to probe the cause of the explosion as residents return to a severely damaged community.
Obama on Thursday reiterated that federal assistance is available for the community of West. He said the country will help them rebuild and “reclaim your community."
After lauding the community's resilience and courage, he said, "America needs towns like West," to wide applause.
Obama spoke following the airing of a video compilation of messages recorded by victims' family members. The president began his speech by saying that he couldn't match the "power of the voices" from those families. "And no words adequately describe the courage that was displayed on that deadly night. What I can do is offer the love and support and prayers of the nation."
Following the memorial, the president and first lady are to meet with families and close friends of the firefighters.
The Obamas had been in Dallas earlier Thursday for the opening of former President George W. Bush’s presidential library and had been scheduled to return to Washington in the evening so the president could keynote a gala for Planned Parenthood.
But White House press secretary Jay Carney announced Wednesday that the president had moved his Planned Parenthood address to Friday morning "to allow him to spend more time with those injured and the loved ones of those lost" in the Texas explosion.
The president and Vice President Joe Biden recently spoke at services for those killed or injured in last week's Boston Marathon bombing and in the manhunt that followed.