Families, colleagues grieve for postal workers who died from anthrax

More than 400 postal workers filled a Washington church Tuesday afternoon to remember and mourn two colleagues who died last month from anthrax. "Joseph [Curseen] and Thomas [Morris] were perfect examples of what makes the Postal Service great...our people," Postmaster General John Potter told the group of mourners gathered at All Souls Church, Unitarian for a memorial service honoring the two employees. "They were part of the fabric that makes the Postal Service unique." Curseen and Morris worked at Washington's Brentwood Road postal facility, where a letter laced with anthrax bacteria was sorted before being sent to Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not find traces of the bacteria at Brentwood in its initial testing. As a result, neither Curseen nor Morris and others were initially tested for exposure. Morris was a 28-year Postal Service veteran; Curseen had spent 16 years with the Postal Service. "Joseph and Thomas never formally enlisted in the fight for this war on terrorism, but they found themselves on the front lines," said Office of Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge. "They had no warning that they would give their lives for this cause, but give them they did." Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., and Reps. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Albert Wynn, D-Md., joined Ridge and Potter at the podium, all expressing sorrow at the loss suffered by the families of the two workers. Members of the Postal Service's board of governors also attended the memorial. "We in government have not served you well," Wynn said, drawing thunderous applause from the audience of mostly postal employees. "It goes without saying that mistakes were made…though not intentional mistakes. Neither compensation nor words are adequate at a time like this." Yet, the memorial service was not solemn as family, clergy and co-workers focused on celebrating the lives of Curseen and Morris. One co-worker described Curseen as a dedicated postal employee who always carried a red Bible and who often played his hand wrong in the lunchtime Bid Whist card game. "Joe gave up breaks to get the mail out," James Harper said. "Joe stayed there seven days a week, 10 hours a day." Morris was honest, dependable, respectful, considerate and kind, said co-worker Brenda Thompson. "He was always true, he did what was right, even if it inconvenienced him," said his widow, Mary Morris. "He followed the rules." Legislation (H.R. 3228) pending in Congress would create a compensation fund for anthrax victims. Norton, a co-sponsor of the bill, vowed that Congress would work closely with Postal Service officials to ensure the safety and well-being of postal workers. "There will be more memorials and there are better memories of these two men, but the best memorial to these two fallen and dedicated men is to ensure that these men and women who survive and continue to serve America, serve in safety and security," Norton declared in closing.
Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.