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Account of the damage and appeal prior to the 2003 ceremony by I.W.W. member Gary Cox.

Ludlow -- 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 the "black 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 strategically 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 with 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 motives according 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 treasury 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 blue blood.

If your knowledge of Ludlow history needs a brushing up, go to web sites for used and rare books; e.g., alibris. com or, and look for "Out 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 strange 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 hasn't 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 museum. It's on 5th Street, behind the county courthouse. Mother Jones slept here.

Gary Cox



Account Of The Desecration By Gary Cox



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