Today was the UMW memorial service held at Ludlow, the site of the 1914 Ludlow Massacre. The actual event occurred in April 20th, 1914 in Ludlow, Colorado. The coal miners were on strike for decent treatment in the mines. If you want to read about it, visit this site or Google the event.
However, this has a family connection for me. The Sudars were coal miners. In 1914, Paul Sudar Sr, his wife Rose and their four sons, were living in the tent colonies. One of those sons was my grandpa John Sudar. He was four. Grandpa said that his father got nervous about the machine guns being set up on the hills around the camps. During the run up to the Ludlow Massacre, My Great-grandpa Sudar sent his wife and children out on a flatcar with lots of other women and children. The flatcar sat out on the plains for four days as they waited to hear what happened to their husbands and friends. It was cold, as that April had been very snowy. They had only what they could carry. When they came back, Ludlow was burned. People died. Mainly women and children who suffocated in a basement under a tent.
I realize that if my Great-grandpa hadn’t been nervous about what he was seeing, we might not be here. The Ludlow Massacre was part of a war that most people don’t even know about. They don’t know how one small place in Colorado became so important to the unions and the history of the labor movement.
Today we had local union reps,politicians, clergy, a Mother Jones impersonator, national union reps, an author and most importantly, two Great Granddaughters who’s families worked in the mines and were at Ludlow. We had welders who presented the site with a memorial sign that they had welded. One of the welders had started out as a miner and changed jobs to become a welder. We had awesome barbecue to eat. Most importantly, this was a family event. Families of miners, union members and community.
I’ll be there again next year.