Friday the 25th of March will be the 100th anniversary of one of the most terrible and tragic events in New York history, the deadly fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Most of those who perished in the fire, or leaped to their deaths rather than burn, were young immigrant women making a paltry wage in conditions best described as poor; 146 died in the flames and smoke, or on the pavement below. Witnesses at the time were helpless to do anything more than listen to the distant screams and the dull, repeated thuds of the falling bodies as they struck the street. It is a horror that led to changed laws governing safety, and spurred the growth of the labor movement.
In the midst of the tragedies of today, it is good to remember those of the past. In the face of injustices and inequalities, and the exploitation of workers in substandard circumstances at home and abroad, it is even better to do something positive, and to be well-informed about those who make the goods we purchase, who grow the food we eat, who care for us and those we love.
Let us do justice, love mercy, walk with God in our sisters and brothers, for as we do to the least of them we do to the greatest of all.
Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG
The Kheel Center at Cornell University has a superb online exhibit and resources about the tragedy.