I did want to mention that Friday is the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory - the 1911 textile factory fire in New York City that killed 146 women immigrant workers, mostly Jewish and Italian. Here is a very touching article about people remembering those who died by marking their names in chalk in front of the apartments where they lived.
The happening of this anniversary is eerily timely right now, as Wisconsin unions - and unions across the country - fight to keep at least the basic boundaries formed to protect workers' rights over the past 100 years. The Triangle Fire was one of the catalysts at the turn of the 20th century (another being the publication of The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair) that moved people to action to protect the rights of workers in this country - and to form unions that helped the least workers among us. In the Fire, the factory heads were saved, but not the women workers - mostly the ones who were working on the ninth floor, where the fire engine ladders didn't reach, and sprinklers didn't work, and exit doors were locked, and phone calls couldn't be made to warn them (because the phone on another floor was off the hook, preventing inter-floor phone calls). Under those conditions, with material strewn around workstations like ready-made kindling, the fire ripped through the overcrowded floor at lightning speed. Workers either burned, or jumped to their deaths.
Here is an interesting quote at the end of the article about the sidewalk markings:
One of [the chalk writing organizer's] favorite quotations comes from Gabriel García Márquez: “Life is not what one lived, but what one remembers and how one remembers it in order to recount it.” Certainly, she said, the Triangle fire was colossally sad. But the huge protests and push for change that followed it were, she said, “invigorating.”
“In the wake of tragedies like Triangle or 9/11, my sense is there are actually quite wonderful things that come out and radiate from that,” she said. “There’s an immediate dropping of day-to-day falseness. You become much more compassionate and humane toward each other in those moments.
“It’s incumbent upon us if we’re going to commemorate the fire,” she added, “to commemorate the spirit of action that grew out of the fire.”
There will be bell ringings at 4:45 p.m. EST around the country, to mark the moment that the first alarm sounded 100 years ago. Here is a website for more information.