The Goleta Postal Distribution Center observed several moments of silence and mourning yesterday, as 150 employees, family members and public officials gathered in remembrance of the violent events which happened exactly one year ago yesterday.
At the memorial, which was held in the center’s parking lot, attendees listened to such speakers as plant manager John Byars and former Goleta Mayor Jonny Wallis comfort the families and commend employees for returning to work after last year’s tragedy. Father John Hedges, who led the service, asked all those present to remember the six employees who died, but more importantly, to heal.
“Can it be that by gathering here we can lift up the terror of it all and have it transformed into a collective memorial?” Hedges said.
On Jan. 30 last year, at approximately 9 p.m., former postal employee Jennifer San Marco opened fire with a 9mm pistol inside the sorting facility on Storke Road. She shot the six employees before turning the gun on herself. Investigations also revealed that San Marco had killed a former neighbor just before traveling to the distribution center.
After likening last year’s events to a hurricane, Hedges said attending yesterday’s ceremony might help the postal workers recover from what he called “a storm surge to the soul.”
“We, each of us, need to be healed,” Hedges said. “Even the ground beneath us needs to be healed.”
Toward the end of the ceremony, standing beneath an American flag flying at half-mast, Byars dedicated a plaque and six olive trees to the six fallen postal employees. Adding to the symbolism, six white doves – one for each of the fallen friends and co-workers – were released.
Byars called each of the slain workers by first name, and spoke of them as “a postal family.” He talked about the relationship between families and the post office – nearly every murdered worker had at least one relative who also worked for U.S. Postal Service. He said this was an example of how deep “postal family” ties run.
“I’ve often heard the term ‘postal family’ over the years,” Byars said. “But I did not understand until last year.”