Plaque Commemorates 'All Affected by Post Office Tragedy'
After controversial word is dropped, postal workers finally get their plaque.
Royal Oak postal workers gathered for a moment of silence this morning next to a plaque honoring the victims of the Nov. 14, 1991, Royal Oak Post Office shootings and "all those that have been affected by the tragedy."
About 50 employees who were there two decades ago when Thomas McIlvane entered the post office with a sawed-off .22 caliber rifle and took the lives of four co-workers and wounded four more before killing himself, still work at the Royal Oak Post Office.
"We got the plaque," said postal worker Charlie Withers. "We had a moment of silence this morning to remember the event with just postal employees."
Withers, a union steward, represented McIlvane on behalf of the National Association of Letter Carriers Local 3126 in a grievance case that had gone to arbitration a few weeks prior to the shootings. McIlvane lost the arbitration effort.
Last fall, a dwarf crabapple tree was planted in front of the post office as a living memorial. At the time, Withers and other postal employees collected donations to have a plaque installed next to the tree, which was to read "In memory of those who lost their lives at the Royal Oak Post Office November 14, 1991 and those affected by this 'preventable' tragedy."
Withers' requests for the plaque were denied by postal officials. "It was a joint decision of leadership," said Ed Moore, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service in Detroit.
Three months later, the word "preventable" has been dropped, and a bronze casting made by Engraving Specialist Inc. of Royal Oak is in front of the memorial tree.
"Finally we were able to agree on wording for the plaque that felt comfortable for everyone," Moore said Monday afternoon.
Documentary examines how America went postal
The film features interviews with survivors and victims of mass shootings, including Withers, who has kept records of the sometimes volatile working conditions inside the Royal Oak Post Office. It took Withers years to obtain the documents through the Freedom of Information Act.
The film is written/produced/directed by Emil Chiaberi and is co-produced by
Oscar and Emmy-winning documentarian James Moll.