LUDLOW--Nearly 400 people, many wearing union slogans, packed a patriotic memorial service last Sunday at the Ludlow Massacre Monument, rivaling the largest turnout in memory.
Some made the trip as a gesture of solidarity after learning vandals had desecrated the 85-year-old memorial, which honors mining families killed by state militia in 1914 during a bitter coalfield strike (see last week's cover story, "Almost like they massacred them again" online at www.csindy.com).
Labor leaders pledged more than $10,000 toward the monument's restoration at the service, held each June to remember the Ludlow dead.
"This is our Vietnam Veterans Memorial, our Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, our Lincoln Memorial," United Mine Workers of America president Cecil Roberts told a cheering crowd. "There is no question whatsoever that ... this monument will be restored."
Two figures that anchor the 15-foot-high gray granite sculpture --a miner and a woman cradling a child in her arms were decapitated around May 8. The woman's arm, which was attached to her head, was also removed. Neither the pieces nor the vandals have been found.
Investigators say there is no evidence that anti-union sentiment motivated the crime, but the brutal mutilation of such a poignant symbol of workers rights has outraged union members.
"I hope whoever did it rots in hell," UMWA District 22 president Fred Lupo said Sunday, prompting applause.
"It's always the best and most powerful monuments that are targeted for destruction, because they function so superbly in the struggle for hearts and minds," University of Denver anthropologist Dean Saitta told the crowd. Saitta and other scholars are leading an archaeological project to recover artifacts from the Ludlow site, where strikers and their families spent the bitter winter of 1913-14 living in tents.
University of Colorado labor historian Julie Greene described the monument as "one of this nation's most important treasures" and promised a campaign to have it designated a National Historic Landmark.
"The people who struggled here contributed an important part of the American history of freedom and equal rights," Greene said. "It's imkportant for any American."
-- Cate Terwilliger