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Centralia Monument dedicated

Monument commemorates the union victims of the 1919 Centralia Tragedy

The following is from the Centralia Monument Committee.

CENTRALIA, WA (July 1, 2024) — The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) dedicated the ‘Union Victims’ monument in Centralia on Sunday June 23rd, following years of effort by the Union’s Centralia Monument Committee. A crowd of 50-60 gathered in George Washington Park for the formal unveiling of the newly installed 3½ ton granite monument. 

IWW speaker Dave Tucker of Bellingham acknowledged the Unions and Labor Councils who contributed money and labor: Laborers International 252, Northwest Washington and Kitsap Central Labor Councils, Firefighters State Council, and Firefighters District Council 7, a couple dozen IWW branches, the workers in Vietnam who quarried the 3-ton granite pedestal, the Centralia Monument Company who produced the final monument, and the couple hundred individual workers who donated hard earned nickels and dollars. 

The program went on with a solemn retelling of the events of November 11th, 1919, the lynching of Fellow Worker Wesley Everest, the unjust trial, and imprisonment of 7 Fellow Workers. A brief account of the post-imprisonment lives of the other IWW members named on the plaque was presented: Eugene Barnett, Britt Smith, O.C. Bland, Bert Bland, James McInerney, John Lamb and Loren Roberts, as well as their dedicated attorney, Elmer Smith. Virtually all were Centralia-area residents, and are buried in local cemeteries.

Photo: IWW x388133

A few minutes of silence were observed to mark the death of IWW member and former General Executive Board Chair Fellow Worker Dylan Brooks of Olympia. A young man and dedicated Fellow Worker, who passed away from cancer on Saturday morning.

The dedication ceremony featured a poem by Wobbly bard Ralph Chaplin, ‘Mourn Not the Dead’. A plea was made for a posthumous pardon for the Union Members who spent more than a decade, unjustly behind bars. 

The Monument Committee asked the Centralia residents in attendance, 20 or so, old and young, to step forward to symbolically receive the monument as the Union’s gift to the City. The ceremonies concluded with all in attendance enthusiastically singing the old British Transport Workers Union’s inspiring song ‘Hold the Fort’ from the IWW’s ‘Little Red Songbook’.


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