Press Release

October 19, 2011

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), spoke from the floor of the U.S. Senate to commemorate this week’s 10-year anniversary of the anthrax attacks that took the lives of two U.S. Postal Workers.  Anthrax letters were delivered first to media outlets, including ABC, CBS, NBC, the National Enquirer, and the New York Post in late September. In October, two other anthrax letters were mailed to U.S. Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy.  The letter to Senator Leahy never made it to Capitol Hill. The envelope addressed to Senator Daschle, however, was opened on October 15 in the Hart Senate Office Building, in the mailroom of the office Senator Cardin uses today. Full video of Senator Cardin’s remarks is available here.

“Today, I salute those federal employees who risked their own lives so that the legislative branch of the greatest government on earth could continue and those who continue to work every day in the face of grave danger and uncertainty.  I also say a simple but heartfelt ‘thank you’ to all of America’s federal employees.  I am proud of the contribution our federal workforce makes to our nation, making sure that Americans are healthy, safe, and informed.”

“We remember U.S. Postal Workers Thomas L. Morris, Jr. and Joseph P. Curseen, Jr. who gave the ultimate sacrifice after being exposed to the infected Senate mail while they worked in the Brentwood post office facility here in Washington, D.C.  Mr. Morris and Mr. Curseen were Maryland residents.  Like so many other federal employees, they went to work every day, serving the American people and trying to earn a living for themselves and their families.  Less than a week after being exposed to the deadly anthrax at the mail facility, both men died of their exposure. 

“It has been fashionable of late to criticize the Environmental Protection Agency.  But it was members of EPA’s Region 3 who led emergency response efforts following the anthrax attacks.  They were joined by a small army of other EPA emergency responders from around the country, who answered the call for extra personnel to manage the massive decontamination effort here on Capitol Hill.   EPA’s national pesticides program also worked quickly to develop new fumigation methods necessary to wipe out the anthrax. 

“It was not just EPA employees who answered the call to duty.  The Capitol Police were the first ones to respond and they continued to provide protection to legislative branch employees as well as the emergency responders and the public.  The Department of Defense lent its expertise.  As the cleanup progressed, thousands of tests were taken and then sent to Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland, where chemical weapons specialists analyzed samples and reported results to the emergency command center.  Defense Department personnel were also engaged in the actual decontamination efforts, working side-by-side with EPA emergency responders. 

“It has become too commonplace to criticize federal employees, but today, as we honor the memory of Thomas L. Morris, Jr. and Joseph P. Curseen, Jr., who gave their lives while engaged in public service, we also honor the sacrifice made by public employees every day.