Account of the damage and appeal prior to the 2003 ceremony
by I.W.W. member Gary Cox.
-- Our Twin Towers -- Beheaded
As I sat at the base of our desecrated monument in Ludlow, Colorado, it was quiet
and peaceful. Only the birds were chirping in the cottonwoods above me. These
trees must have been planted to shade this beautiful sculpture of a miner, his
wife, and their small frightened child. Trees are as scarce as moisture on the
high semi-desert of Eastern Colorado. There was a slight breeze bringing me the
smell of tiny flowers and sage competing for the water from a precious rain the
night before. I had arrived early to meet Mike Romero, President of Local 9856,
U.M.W.A to view the recent damage to the sculpture and to get the Union's view
of who may have vandalized this site.
My thoughts were of the 2 women and 11 children who had suffocated in
hole" there next to me, trying to escape their burning tents and militia
machine gun fire; and of Louie Tikas who had been shot three times in the back
by the Colorado State militia only a few feet from where I sat. If the Twin Towers
in New York City symbolize wealth and power, this monument symbolizes the courage
and solidarity of working people to resist exploitation, and to struggle for
civil liberty, for freedom, and for dignity. The husband and wife team represented
on the monument probably knew from past experience that wealthy lawyers, masquerading
as their representatives in Washington, D.C., would never deliver on the Constitution
and Bill of Rights for mere miners in Colorado when it was Rockefeller who was
violating those rights. They knew also that Governor Elias Ammons would not enforce
the state 8 hour day law for the same reason. A politician does not bite the
hand that supplies him/her campaign funds and flowery press. Laws are selectively
enforced. The miners' families learned the hard way that freedom, civil rights,
and justice must be won by working people through struggle, tenacity, and courage,
and then maintained by constant vigilance. Nothing has ever been "given" to
the powerless. Freedom never comes to the timid nor to those too comfortable
to sacrifice. These thoughts drifted up to me from the "black hole" along
with the words of Woody Guthrie in the famous song he wrote after he had visited
this site, "God bless the mine workers' union, and then I hung my head and
cried." This monument is our "twin towers."
This isolated 40 acres, which had been the Ludlow tent colony site, was
purchased by the United Mine Workers of America in 1917 and this monument
was built next
to the "black hole" to memorialize the tragic 1913-1914 U.M.W.A.
strike. The Ludlow tent colony was the largest of several tent colonies spaced
to block the canyons leading up into the Sangre de Cristo mountains where the
coal mines were located. The monument was officially dedicated at a large gathering
of mostly miners and their families on May 30, Memorial Day, 1918. It was a
magnificent sculpture and has witnessed a yearly memorial service for the past
85 years in
the quiet, peaceful spot nestled at the foot of the majestic Sangre de Cristos,
unmolested until May 7, 2003.
As I sat there looking at this monument; miner, wife, and child now covered
black plastic, I heard Mike Romero drive up with his friend "Wolf." I
had planned to meet them here as they were driving up from Trinidad, Colorado
to begin sprucing up the site for the memorial service on Sunday, June 29. Mike
graciously offered to remove the black plastic for awhile so I could take pictures
of the damage. It was a shock. The handsomely sculptured heads of the miner and
his wife are gone, as is the woman's left arm. This sculpture is solid granite.
The breaks are straight and clean, almost as if sawn, but there are no saw or
chisel marks and the surface is very rough to the touch. I got the feeling that
whoever did this either knew a good deal about working with granite or they were
very lucky with a sledge hammer. Mike said the "vandals" took only
the two heads, one arm, and a small vase from the southwest corner of the monument,
then neatly cleaned up all debris before leaving. Why only these select pieces?
Why wasn't there more random violence if this was done by "vandals" and
why clean up the chips? Investigators from the Las Animas County Sheriff's
Department and the Trinidad Police Department say they have no suspects or
to Mike Romero, and he said that the U.M.W.A. had received no threats. Whoever
did this, did it between the caretaker's normal rounds at 6:00 P.M. May 7 and
6:00 P.M. May 8. The U.M.W.A. has posted a reward for any information that
leads to a conviction.
On Sunday, June 29, 2003, beginning at 10:00 A.M., a very special memorial
ceremony will be held at the Ludlow site. There will be a barbeque
in the afternoon following
the ceremony. Ludlow is 12 miles north of Trinidad, Colorado, and a 3 hour
drive south of Denver. Working people should come from every corner of
the globe in
support of the United Mine Workers. This monument is dear to us all. Let's
send our universal message "We Never Forget" to the perpetrators.
Both Mike Romero and Bob Butero, Director of Region 4, U.M.W.A. here
in Denver, told me
that the Union will repair or replace this sculpture. I have no doubts that
they will, even though the corporations/government have devastated their
this past decade, but if we let them do it alone -- Shame On Us. Come on down
and be with us. Share rides, catch a freight, but find a way. If the boxcars
are full, send a generous donation to: Ludlow Memorial, c/o Mike Romero, Local
9856 U.M.W.A., 1804 N. Linden Avenue, Trinidad, CO, 81082. Phone 1-719-846-8234.
Cecil Roberts, President of the U.M.W.A., will be speaking on June 29th. Those
of you who went to Virginia in the late 80s to assist the miners during their
Pittston strike will remember Cecil Roberts when he was the Vice-President of
the Union. I can't remember how many times he was jailed during that strike for
violating injunctions, etc., I'm not sure I can count that high, but Mike told
me Cecil was recently jailed again for sitting in at the corporate headquarters
of Bethlehem Steel. If you come to hear him speak and feel no passion, you have
If your knowledge of Ludlow history needs a brushing up, go to web sites
for used and rare books; e.g., alibris. com or abebooks.com, and look
of the Depths," by Barron Beshoar, son of the only doctor who would care
for striking miners or their families at Ludlow, and "The Great Coalfield
War," by George McGovern, written for his doctorate thesis. It is the
best of the two, in my opnion, but harder to find and more expensive. For some
reason, all the accurate books on the history of Ludlow are out of print???
Mike tells me George McGovern has also been invited to come on the 29th but
responded yet. He's no spring chicken. Look who's talking. See you on the 29th.
If you have time, stop at the old county jail in Walsenburg, just 15 miles
north of Ludlow. The jail has been converted into a delicious two story mining
It's on 5th Street, behind the county courthouse. Mother Jones slept here.