Clinton Eulogizes Slain Secret Service Agent
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Touched personally by the Oklahoma City bombing, a grieving President Clinton today mourned the death of a former member of his Secret Service detail. ``Life is so unpredictable, but his commitment to his country was not,″ Clinton said.
The president and first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton, attended the funeral in suburban Rockville, Md., today for agent Alan G. Whicher, who left the White House seven months ago for the supposedly quieter confines of Oklahoma.
``It seems like only yesterday that Al and his family came to the Oval Office to say goodbye as they left my detail,″ Clinton recalled.
``We all thought he was going to what would be a much less hectic pace of life in Oklahoma City,″ the president told an overflow crowd of hundreds at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church.
Secret Service Director Eljay Bowron called Whicher ``the best of the best. ... He not only met the standard, he set the standard.″
Earlier, Clinton urged all federal workers to join him and Mrs. Clinton in observing a national moment of silence at 10:02 a.m. EDT today to remember those injured or killed in the bombing one week ago.
Whicher is one of four bombing victims whose lives shared a path _ however remote _ with the president, and whose deaths made the bombing strike closer to home for Clinton than most national tragedies.
``I will never forget, more than anything else, the faces and the stories of the family members of the victims,″ Clinton said Monday during a three-day Midwest swing dominated by the bombing.
Clinton again urged Americans on Tuesday to rebuke people who inflame hatred or violence.
``Words have consequences,″ he said at Iowa State University. ``Whether it comes from the left or the right, whether it comes on radio, television or in the movies, whether it comes in a schoolyard and _ yes _ even on a college campus, the answer to hateful speech is to speak out.″
The remarks were meant to clarify his attack a day earlier against ugly rhetoric on the nation’s ``airwaves,″ a choice of words some conservative radio talk show hosts thought was aimed at them. The White House had said Clinton wanted all public discourse to be more civil.
Whicher, 40, left Washington seven months ago to become assistant special agent in charge of the Oklahoma field office. Minutes before the explosion, he had called his wife of 20 years and wished her luck on a speech she was giving that morning to a Bible group. They had three children.
Clinton said he recalled meeting Whicher’s wife, Pamela Sue, and children in the Oval Office seven months ago ``as her husband left my Secret Service detail to go to what seemed like a less hectic pace of duty in Oklahoma City.″
Whicher was born in Oak Park, Ill., and grew up in Beltsville, Md. He joined the Secret Service in April 1976 after graduating magna cum laude from the University of Maryland.
He served in the vice president’s protection division during the Reagan administration, the New York field office and the liaison division. Before Oklahoma, he oversaw Clinton’s security detail as assistant to the special agent in charge of the presidential protection division.
Survivors include his wife; their children, Meredith, 17; Melinda, 16; and Ryan, 12; and his mother, Elizabeth Whicher of Boonsboro, Md.
Three other special agents and an investigative assistant were also killed in the bombing.
Honoring all the dead Monday, Clinton recalled bonds with three other victims:
_Cartney McRaven, whose husband, Shane McRaven, an Air Force sergeant, brought pictures of Clinton to an Oklahoma City memorial service attended by the president. His bride, fellow soldier Cartney, had taken the pictures when Clinton visited Haiti three weeks ago.
``She came home because we wound down our mission there and she married her fiance,″ Clinton said. ``And three days later, she went to the federal building to change her name.″
His voice cracking, Clinton said Mrs. McRaven was lost in the bombing, ``And so he had to give me the pictures his wife took.″
_Mike Maroney, a former University of Arkansas football player and friend of several White House aides. Clinton talked with his children at the service.
_Michael Carrillo, whose children brought to the service a button he kept from Clinton’s inauguration.