A marvelous report, full of righteous proletarian rage and revolutionary hope, of the first (?) workers’ memorial day protest in the aftermath of the Ludlow Massacre in Seattle on May 30, 1914 by comrade Kate Sadler.
‘Lest We Forget’ by Kate Sadler from International Socialist Review. Vol. 15 No. 1. July, 1914.
A GREAT Historical Event took place in Seattle on May 30, 1914. Memorial Day has taken on a new meaning. It has been clothed with a Dignity and Grandeur that no military celebration could ever have brought to it. This came through Labor’s efforts, as all else has come. Seattle has set an example to the Labor Movement of the UNITED STATES which is best expressed in the old saying, Go thou and do likewise. Here is where imitation will surely become the sincerest flattery. Labor has changed this DAY, as it will change all other days whenever Labor sufficiently exerts itself and forgets the master, focusing its eyes upon the men, women and children of its own ranks and upon INDUSTRY, from which all must draw their sustenance.
Yes, Labor determined that the time had come to pay loving Tribute to its own dead, to commemorate as an HISTORIC EVENT those who have fallen in the TERRIBLE INDUSTRIAL BATTLES, those who have been murdered quickly, and those whose lives have bee one long agony of toil. The babe, the youth, the middle aged and the old, all, all are remembered, as witnesseth the evergreen float entitled, “LEST WE FORGET.” Upon their fallen bodies, upon their crushed and bleeding forms, upon their broken hearts and despite their anguished protests has been built our so-called civilization.
And so we gathered, the different groups or units forming at their own headquarters and marching from there to the trystin place, the “Labor Temple,” at Sixth and Union streets. Arriving about noon at the Fifth Ward headquarters, Socialist Party, I found the place crowded, and lunch being served. After eating we formed in line outside, the Finnish Local No. 2 being in the lead. Promptly at 1:30 p.m. the march to the Labor Temple began. At Sixth and Olive streets a small group from the rival S.P. awaited us, falling in behind the Fifth Ward, attesting the solidarity possible in a common cause. The next organization we came upon was the I.W.W. waiting under their banner of ONE BIG UNION. As soon as the REDS hove in sight all bearing upon their breast long red badges with the wording “IN MEMORY OF LABOR’S DEAD” printed in black thereon, they were greeted with loud cheers. The clarion notes of a bugle played by an I.W.W., gave us the MARSEILLAISE, followed by the RED FLAG, sung to the end.
It looked as though some objections were going to be raised over the red badges of the Socialists and the banner of the I.W.W.; but Business Agent Doyle of the Central Labor Council was given to understand that we marched that way or not at all.
At last all was ready, with floats reminding us of CALUMET, of LUDLOW and of all those who have gone before battling for bread. The Socialist banners (Workers of the World Unite) called forth cheers all along the line. Seattle’s sidewalks and windows were filled with a sea of humanity gazing upon LABOR’S AWAKENING TO ITS DUTY TO ITS OWN DEAD. Miles upon miles of marchers, four abreast, solemn men and women, conscious of their DIVINE MISSION and the CAUSE that they served, with heads held high, as becomes Intelligent Workers. Many Grand Army comrades were among us, proud of their bronze button, prouder of their RED button, which carries with it the greatest comradeship the world has ever known. See the Trinity of Labor and of Love as it winds slowly along the streets of Seattle- the MAN, the WOMAN and the CHILD. A Nation’s wealth lies in the wellbeing of the least of these. We have been blind, but now we see with a class-conscious vision. At last it dawns- consciousness, class consciousness.
Oh! GENTLEMEN of the RAINIER CLUB, as ye sate at the windows and watched the ranks of Labor file past- and the flunkies on your steps- what would I not give to have been able to read your respective thoughts then. Did the raised clinched fists mean anything to you? Did that hoarse cry, “Remember Ludlow,” blanch your cheeks, or contract your hearts, if such an organ still functions in your soft white bodies? Remember Ludlow- Historic rallying cry. Up to our nostrils comes the smell of burning flesh- tender babies’ flesh- the price of which no man on earth can tell. But the women, the MOTHERS of this and every other Nation know. And because of this thing which you have done to the next generation of American Citizens, ye shall suffer- suffer the loss of ownership, the loss of power to do your dirty, filthy will upon those who labor.
As we have awakened to Class Consciousness, so will we progress to the full knowledge that no man is good enough to be another man’s master. That the private ownership of things used in common must go, and social ownership take its place. And so we leave you, merry gentlemen, to your thoughts. Here’s hoping your shadows will grow less. WE must hasten on, March on. The Stormy Petrel of the labor movement- MOTHER JONES- is already talking to the first arrivals. She must speak twice- there are so many of us. The Awakened Mother tackling the 20th century problem- The Abolishment of Poverty.
Already protests are going up against our use of that day from the infamous editor of the Seattle Times. It is our day. We have taken it, shall we accept it? We have marched as a unit, shown our Solidarity, demonstrated our loyalty to our dead. Will it end there? What of the Living? They will soon be dead. How will they die? As at LUDLOW, quickly? Or slowly in mine and mill, in shop and factory – in HELL?
Come, Labor, you must answer. Close up the Ranks. In Unity is strength. Each for All and All for Each. Stop mouthing phrases. Put these words into Action. All things are possible to A UNITED WORKING CLASS.
The International Socialist Review (ISR) was published monthly in Chicago from 1900 until 1918 by Charles H. Kerr and critically loyal to the Socialist Party of America. It is one of the essential publications in U.S. left history. During the editorship of A.M. Simons it was largely theoretical and moderate. In 1908, Charles H. Kerr took over as editor with strong influence from Mary E Marcy. The magazine became the foremost proponent of the SP’s left wing growing to tens of thousands of subscribers. It remained revolutionary in outlook and anti-militarist during World War One. It liberally used photographs and images, with news, theory, arts and organizing in its pages. It articles, reports and essays are an invaluable record of the U.S. class struggle and the development of Marxism in the decades before the Soviet experience. It was closed down in government repression in 1918.
PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/isr/v15n01-jul-1914-ISR-riaz-ocr.pdf