The Oklahoman (Sunday)

A NEW TRAGEDY

Monument to Edmond Post Office massacre victims is in disrepair

- Nolan Clay

EDMOND – On windy days, the broken bronze ribbon at the monument for the victims of the Edmond Post Office massacre makes an eerie clanging sound as it bounces back and forth. It has been that way for years.

Most months, the fountain stays dry and dark at night. The color of the bronze statute has faded, and the base has countless cracks. Weeds sprout from the joints in the surroundin­g sidewalk.

“It’s tragic to me to see it in that kind of disrepair,” said Randel Shadid, who was acting mayor the day part-time mail carrier Patrick Henry Sherrill fatally shot 14 co-workers. “It needs major refurbishi­ng.”

Sherrill killed himself as the first police officers arrived on Aug. 20, 1986. At the time, it was the second-worst oneday massacre by a lone gunman in U.S. history. It led in part to the saying, “Going postal.”

Shadid walked the building with Oklahoma County District Attorney Bob Macy and Edmond Police Chief Clent Dedek after the SWAT team left.

He said he did so to have firsthand knowledge of what transpired in case anyone sued the city over the police response. What he saw has haunted him.

“It absolutely is the worst day of my life,” said the former mayor and now retired attorney. “I’ve regretted every day since then that I did that.”

As the 36th anniversar­y approaches, the post office has the fountain going again.

Local postal field employees performed “routine” maintenanc­e on the fountain that included cleaning the basin, applying a fresh coat of paint and inspecting the water jets, a U.S. Postal Service spokeswoma­n said.

“Once maintenanc­e is completed, the fountain will be operationa­l to honor the memory of all employees and their families who were affected by the incident,” the spokeswoma­n, Becky Hernandez, told The Oklahoman in an Aug. 3 email.

“Then, and now, we grieve our lost postal family members, and remember the survivors – impacted colleagues and loved ones,” she said. “Our employees’ safety and well-being are always the Postal Service’s top priority, and we remain vigilant about keeping our employees safe each day as they serve the

“Then, and now, we grieve our lost postal family members, and remember the survivors – impacted colleagues and loved ones.” Becky Hernandez U.S. Postal Service spokeswoma­n

Edmond community and communitie­s all across the nation.”

The monument was unveiled in 1989 on Memorial Day. It was built on federal property just south of the post office’s main entrance. A proposal to place it at Arcadia Lake was scrapped after drawing protests.

Local artist Rich Muno sculpted the memorial’s main feature, a bronze statue of a standing man and woman holding a large ribbon. The sculpture was named “The Yellow Ribbon.”

Muno, who died in 2015, said his design was inspired by the yellow ribbons he saw tied around mailboxes, lamp posts and door knobs after the tragedy.

The fountain beneath the statue has 14 water jets, one for each slain worker. Each jet has a light to illuminate the gushing water at night. A congressma­n at the 1989 dedication said postal officials received $77,000 in donations to help pay for the $92,000 monument.

A recent check of the site showed only 13 of the 14 lights were shining, and the weeds had not been removed.

“It just seems like, that after a while, it’s just all forgotten,” said Ruth Ann Bryson, whose sister, postal clerk Patty Husband, was among those killed.

“That’s just kind of the way it’s gotten to be with so many things. Once it’s over, it’s over,” said Bryson, 90, of Edmond. “I think they should still honor all of these people. The water hasn’t been on for a long, long time.”

Shadid is an arts enthusiast who helped establish Edmond’s nationally recognized public arts program. He is a former chairman of the Edmond Visual Arts Commission and still attends its meetings.

The commission discussed helping out once, he recalled. The ribbon would have been re-yellowed and reattached. The rest of the bronze would have been refurbishe­d. But family members of those killed didn’t want the sculpture touched.

“And then there was a lady several years ago,” he said. “She was going to get together a group of folks and raise the money and ... get the water basin fixed and the fountains fixed or ... maybe just turning it into a planter and having pretty flowers there.

“Nothing has come of that.”

He said such major fixes could not take place without U.S. Postal Service permission, and it is illegal for the city to spend public dollars on somebody else’s ground anyway.

He said he thinks the Visual Arts Commission still would be happy to try to find partners to pay at least for repairs to the sculpture. He thinks the city council would help with funding, if the city’s attorney could figure out a way to do so legally.

“But it’s, kind of, the ball really is in the post office’s court because the city or private individual­s cannot just go on site and start doing what they want to do, the way they think it ought to be done.”

 ?? NATHAN J FISH/THE OKLAHOMAN ?? The Edmond Post Office Memorial’s fountain runs again on Thursday after the memorial fell into disrepair in Edmond.
NATHAN J FISH/THE OKLAHOMAN The Edmond Post Office Memorial’s fountain runs again on Thursday after the memorial fell into disrepair in Edmond.
 ?? ?? THE LANDMARKS AROUND US
THE LANDMARKS AROUND US
 ?? ?? The Edmond Post Office memorial, pictured Aug. 3 has fallen into disrepair in recent years.
The Edmond Post Office memorial, pictured Aug. 3 has fallen into disrepair in recent years.
 ?? PHOTOS BY DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN ?? Edmond Post Office is pictured Aug. 3.
PHOTOS BY DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN Edmond Post Office is pictured Aug. 3.

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