Fifteen years ago, USDA and all of America experienced a tragedy that shook us to the core and united us in ways that brought out the best in our country. At 9:02 am Central Standard Time on April 19, 1995, a bomb exploded in the A.P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, killing 168 innocent people. Ninety-eight victims were Federal employees.
Seven of those were members of the USDA family. In honor of these seven victims, the Riverdale, MD, conference center was renamed “The Oklahoma City Memorial Conference Center” and a portrait titled “Heroes of America’s Harvest” has been permanently displayed outside the center since 2005.
This year, we will honor our lost colleagues in a moment of silence. This remembrance fulfills a promise we made to the families of the fallen employees 15 years ago ─ to remember their loved ones and the spirit of unity that was born from their deaths and the deaths of others in Oklahoma City. Please join me in remembering and honoring APHIS employees Olen Bloomer, Jim Boles, Peggy Clark, Dick Cummins, Adele Higginbottom, Carole Khalil, and Rheta Long.
I think each of us remembers that day and its effect on America. Many of our current employees have been working for USDA for 15 years or more and can recall the effect that the tragedy had on our Agency. Let the memories of our loss inspire us to become better people and better public servants. I welcome you to share your thoughts, reflections and memories.