Memorial Remembers Feds Killed on the Job

“The people that we remember today loved their country. They loved their neighbors. They loved their nation,” said John Berry. “The people that we remember today loved their country. They loved their neighbors. They loved their nation,” said John Berry. Sarah Scully/

A simple but elegant wall in an otherwise nondescript federal building in Washington now serves as a memorial to government employees killed in the line of duty.

Fifty-two silver stars, one for each state, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories, are flanked by two American flags under the inscription: “In grateful memory of federal civilian employees who gave their lives for our country.” It is the first time fallen civilian employees across the executive branch will be honored with a memorial.

“The people that we remember today loved their country. They loved their neighbors. They loved their nation,” said John Berry, the outgoing director of the Office of Personnel Management, during a Thursday afternoon ceremony at the agency to unveil the Wall of Honor. “They rose each morning, and whether they pinned a badge over their hearts, or faced danger unexpectedly, they ended up the day laying down their lives in our service.”

Berry read the names of civilian employees killed on the job since 2012. The fallen include Anne Smedinghoff, the 25-year-old State Department employee killed by a suicide bomber earlier this month while delivering books to a school in Afghanistan, and Margaret Anderson, a 34-year-old park ranger with the Interior Department who was fatally shot in 2012 when she set up a road block to intercept a fleeing suspect in Mount Rainier National Park.

“While we often think of the federal government as a monolith confined within the Beltway, most of the people on this wall are not from Washington, D.C.,” Berry said in his remarks. Eighty-five percent of the federal workforce is outside of the nation’s capital.

Berry said OPM will continue to collect the names of the fallen from agencies and update its website regularly with the information. There were 27 names on the agency’s website as of Friday. Many of those killed were employees of Interior and the Homeland Security Department.

Berry, whose last day at the agency was Friday, was joined on Thursday by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va. Both lawmakers paid tribute to those employees killed and to the families who lost loved ones. Hoyer described Smedinghoff, an Illinois native, as “a young woman who was full of life and energy and passion for service. She was killed doing the work that we the people of the United States of America asked her to do, the work that she wanted to do, the work that she believed would further the interests of all people.”

A few moments of levity punctuated the solemn occasion, when Hoyer and Wolf praised Berry’s work as OPM director. Wolf called Berry the “best director” OPM has ever had, which prompted loud applause from employees and others gathered in the lobby of the agency. “And, I think he would have made a great secretary of Interior, too,” Wolf added, referring to reports that Berry was interested in that job after his OPM stint ended. The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Sally Jewell as Interior secretary. Berry is reportedly on the short list to be President Obama’s ambassador to Australia.

The popular OPM director, who early in his career worked as a legislative director for Hoyer, called the long-time Maryland Democrat “a mentor and a second father to me.” Hoyer elicited laughs when he described his working relationship with Berry on Capitol Hill. “I worked for him for 10 years,” Hoyer said. “He let me pretend that I was the boss, and I let him tell me what to do.”

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

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

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


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