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Memorial for the Homestead Strikers 125th Anniversary of July 6, 1892, Ceremony at the Gravesites.
Thursday, July 6, 2017 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
On the actual anniversary July 6, 2017, people will visit the graveyard/markers honoring the memories of fallen workers. Charles McCollester and Bill Serrin will lead a commemoration for the six Homestead workers who are buried at the two Homestead
Cemeteries. Sermons made by Methodist Episcopal pastor James McIlyar and Roman Catholic pastor John Bullion in the days following the battle will be read. Religious leaders from diverse faiths will offer prayers and reflections.
In case of severe weather all events will take place at the Pump House.
Here is what’s planned:
Stop #1 Noon – Homestead Cemetery – Civil War Statue
Greeting: BHF President John Haer Recognition: Homestead Mayor Betty Esper, Munhall Mayor Ray Bodnar. Presentation of Colors: Boy Scout Troop 4, Homestead Perk United Methodist church: Doug Hartman.
Themes: Charles McCollester, “Technological change to empower not oppress”We gather today to honor the steelworkers and community of Homestead for their resistance in 1892 to industrial servitude. The union fought to preserve the right to freely associate, to organize and bargain collectively, to participate in workplace decisions that affected their health, safety, wages, hours and working conditions.
They also asserted a right to share in the fruits of technological progress, to see that the genius of industry was employed to raise up the life and living standards of those who worked and better the communities they lived in. Today in our time, our children and our children’s children too face revolutionary changes driven by advanced technology. We need to remember the Homestead Strike of 1892 and work to guarantee that the fruits of progress are shared for the benefit of all and not for the extreme accumulation of wealth and power in the hands of the few.
Lew Dopson, Assistant Director, USW District 10: Organize to resist all forms of slavery.”My union, the United Steelworkers of today, developed out of over 150 years of struggle against wage cuts, unemployment, unsafe work and hard living conditions. Workers were conscripted to fight against slavery in the Civil War, only to come home to industrial slavery. Many small unions of the 19th century, including the Sons of Vulcan, the Iron and Steel Heaters, Rollers and Roughers, wire-drawers, hammer-men, millwrights and pitmen… all joined together to build a stronger organization that could fight together. And we continue to this day to join with others to survive. We are constantly under attack by those in political and financial power, but we continue to organize all workers to resist all forms of slavery. It is as steelworker John McLuckie said in 1892, “The constitution of this country guarantees all men the right to live, but in order to live we must keep up a continuing struggle!”
Song: John Brown’s Body/Battle Hymn of the Republic Jason Kendall
Remembrance of George Rutter: Linda Asmonga. “A Pinkerton agent shot George Rutter, a union veteran wounded at Gettysburg, a longtime member of the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers, in the thigh and stomach in the opening engagement. He died eleven days later in a hospital bed next to the wounded Pinkerton Captain Heinde. He and Sheriff William McCleary served in the same company of the Union Army. He died July 17 and is buried in Verona PA.”
Bill Serrin: Excerpt from Rev. J.J. McIlyar Sermon at the funeral of John Morris: “The mill men were organized in an association that enabled them to obtain just and adequate remuneration for their services. The existence of this union of men was threatened by a body of Pinkertons employed by somebody for the purpose. This is what has put this blessed man in his coffin today: a perfect citizen; an intelligent man; a good husband who was never lacking in his duty; a brother who was devoted and loyal and who will surely find his reward….This town is bathed in tears today and it is brought about by one man, who is less respected by the laboring people than any other employer in the country. (There is no more sensibility in that man than a toad.”)
Morris’s body was borne in a hearse up the hill to the Homestead burying grounds. On the way another hearse fell into the procession. It bore Peter Farris’s body…Now another funeral procession formed, and the body of Silas Wain was borne up the hill. The next day, Friday July 8, Henry Striegel, Joseph Sotek, and Thomas Weldon were buried.
Stop # 2 – 12:25 – John Morris Grave, Remembrance of John Morris:
Carl Redwood, USW Pitt Organizing Staff: “John Morris was a 28-year-old immigrant from Wales. The popular union man was a skilled worker in the Blooming Mill. He was the first worker to die shortly after 8:00 AM. Taking position in the Pump House he was hit by a bullet in the forehead. He fell back and down sixty feet into the well of the building. His mangled body was carried through town to his home on Ninth Avenue. The death of Morris and the procession to his home where he was received by his widow and children “seemed to craze the people, and men, women and children ran through the streets crying revenge and for blood.”
Reflection: Rev. Jay Geisler
Stop #3 – 12:50 – Joseph Sotak Grave, Remembrance of Joseph Sotak:
Millie Beik: “Joseph Sotak, a Slovak, one of the men who confronted Pinkerton Captain Heinde at the gangplank, ran to save Martin Murray, a Welshman, who was wounded by a Pinkerton volley near the water’s edge. Murray survived, but Sotak, attempting to drag the bleeding Murray to safety, “stood over Murray’s prostrate body…and as he was raising him, he staggered and an instant later fell by his comrade.” He was shot in the mouth and died instantly. Hundreds of Homesteaders, East European and American alike, accompanied his body to the cemetery.”
Reflection: Rosemary Trump
Stop #3b – 12:50 – Silas Wain Grave, Remembrance of Silas Wain: Wali Jamal: “Silas Wain, 23 years old, a laborer in the Bessemer mill. He recently emigrated from England. He was among workers who rushed into the mill yard to confront the Pinkertons, but he was killed by a shot fired by workers from across the river using a cannon from the Grand Army of the Republic home in Swissvale. The exploding ball sent a piece of iron into his head. His brother beside him watched him die. He was engaged to be married within weeks. His fiancée, Mary Jones collapsed when she received the news in her home on Eighth Avenue and remained delirious for several hours.”
Reflection: Rev. Ken Love
1:00 Procession to Mary Magdalene Cemetery
Stop #4 – 1:15 – Henry Streigel Grave, Remembrance of Henry Streigel: John Haer, SAG/AFTRA: “Henry Striegal, 19 years old, was a teamster who rushed to the mill yard to support the steelworkers. When he pulled out a gun he accidentally shot and wounded himself. When he fell a Pinkerton bullet killed him instantly. Members of the German Catholic community were very upset by his death even though he was a lapsed churchgoer.”
Reflection: Father Gary Dorsey
Stop #5 – 1:25 – Peter Ferris Grave, Remembrance of Peter Ferris: Peter Reder: “Peter Ferris (Faris, Farris, Fareis, Fares), 28 years old. A Slovak immigrant, he was deeply religious, crossing the Monongahela by boat with his brother to attend mass at St. Michael’s in Braddock each Sunday. On July 6, Fares left home at 7:00 AM armed only with a loaf of bread to share with his co-workers. A Pinkerton sharpshooter sighted him and gunned him down shortly after 8:00 AM. The bullet blew the top of his head off. As he lay dying he shook the loaf at the Pinkertons: “You cannot take this from our mouths” were his last words. His brother, a leader of the Slovak community and 11 year resident of Homestead received his remains from co-workers who carried him home in their arms. 800 members of the Amalgamated marched in his funeral procession.”
Reflection: Molly Rush
Stop # 6 – 1:35 – Thomas Weldon Grave, Remembrance of Thomas Weldon: Jim Watt, USW District 10 Staff: “Thomas Weldon was a skilled steelworker of Irish descent. He was the last man to die in the battle. Upon the surrender of the Pinkertons at 5 PM, he was part of the crowd that pushed into the barges. He grabbed a Winchester rifle from a Pinkerton agent and slammed it to the ground in an effort to break it. The gun discharged into his stomach – he died minutes later.”
Reflection: Father Jack O’Malley
1:45 – Stop #7 – 1:45 – Father John Bullion Grave – Priest’s plot, near Bullion marker
Excerpt from Fr. Bullion’s sermon: Charles McCollester, “It is sad for us to note that the usually quiet and peaceful town of Homestead should have been transformed into a battle-ground. When we inquire into the reason for this we are told that differences exist between capital and labor which have not been satisfactorily adjusted….differences that exist between the great Carnegie Steel Corporation and the honest workingmen of Homestead.
It apparently becomes necessary in the eyes of the firm to send to this peaceful town…Pinkerton rowdies in order to murder honest workingmen who have taken possession of the property to defend it, and to which property they have a certain right…the workman has a certain right on account of the length of time he has been employed – not the deed to the property but a certain claim – and that when he protects that property he is doing only what is right. As long as he does nothing wrong he has a right to expect permanent employment, and hence it is wrong for a mob to come here and deprive the workman of the right that is his.”
Impacts on the children and families of the workers, Steffi Domike, Battle of Homestead Foundation and USW International Staff: “All of the slain strikers we remember today are men. They died in battle that day, but the suffering caused by the crushing of the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers here rippled through the community. Women lost their husbands and brothers, children lost their fathers and uncles and families lost their champions and breadwinners. The poverty throughout this and other workers’ communities was profound and the suffering unspeakable.”
Song: Solidarity Forever, Jason Kendall
Shakespeare: Sonnet 65 – Mark Rylance: “Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea, But sad mortality o’er-sways their power,How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,Whose action is no stronger than a flower?O, how shall summer’s honey breath hold out Against the wrackful siege of batt’ring days,When rocks impregnable are not so stout,Nor gates of steel so strong, but time decays? O fearful meditation! where, alack,Shall time’s best jewel from time’s chest lie hid?Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back? Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid?O, none, unless this miracle have might,That in black ink my love may still shine bright.”
Taps- Perry Recker
Marshalls: Red arm bands: Steffi Domike (USW), Howard Scott (USW), Kent Buchholz (UE), Joni Rabinowitz (BHF),Al Hart (UE), Laura Wien (HERE),Eric Marchbein (IBEW), Pauline Greenlick, Sharon Beattie (PSEA), Bob Beattie, Bill Yund (Insulators), Jacqui Cavalier (AFT),Nick Molnar (UMW), Melanie Archangelo, Joel Sabadasz, Carl Redwood, (Pitt Faculty),Robin Sowards (USW), Tamara Lefcowitz (USW).
Official Observers: Jim Hohman et al. Sound: Dennis Robinson