Ludlow is a lonely place, a sad place. The wind, unimpeded by anything more than a barbed wire fence, does not stop to pay tribute to what happened there.
Nobody would choose to live at the site of the Ludlow camp, but hundreds did. Miners and their families, evicted from the coal mine company towns, lived here in tents supplied by the United Mine Workers of America.
Dozens of different nationalities and languages, as diverse as any large city, were here, all living, working, fighting, and praying together, in a community forged by shared visions of freedom and hope.
I’ve attended the ceremonies and services in Ludlow that commemorate the strike and the massacre of the innocents. I’ve listened to the stories told by the descendants of the miners. I’ve heard and seen the vestiges of loss that they still carry to this day. I’ve descended into the hell known as the death pit, where eleven children and two mothers were murdered when the Colorado National Guard burned the tent colony to the ground. I have stood where Frankie Snyder was shot and killed, and where Louis Tikas and two other men were executed. I have seen the railroad tracks where a train crew stopped their train between the National Guard and fleeing mothers and children, giving them a chance to escape to the safety of an arroyo.
Ludlow is a powerful place.
I’ve been to Ludlow when no one else was present. I’ve walked to the edge of the arroyo. If you look closely, you can still see evidence of the camp and its destruction: broken pottery and plates, broken glass fused by the fires that destroyed the camp, remnants of shoes, buttons, and shattered pieces of dolls and toys. And lumps of coal, the innocent black rock that started it all.
Perhaps it is just the wind, but at times you can hear voices. Mothers, fathers, children cry out in anguish. And, sometimes, if you listen carefully, you can hear a single word.
And you realize that until their story has been told, and justice has been served, there will be no peace.