By MIKE ALEWITZ
On Nov. 11, 1919, Wesley Everest, an antiwar veteran and activist in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), was beaten, shot and hanged from a bridge over the Chehalis River in Centralia Washington. This mural project was initiated by labor activists in Centralia, from the IWW and the Evergreen Labor Education Center. One of its central purposes was to extend solidarity to the recent arrival of immigrant workers.
“IN 1917, WORKERS IN THIS COUNTRY were marched off to war—down the streets of our towns while the bands played. And they got to Europe, and they fought in the trenches, and tens of thousands of workers from this country were slaughtered, or slaughtered tens of thousands of workers from other countries. That experience has been repeated in different wars throughout your and my lifetime.
“Two kinds of people came back from that war. There were people who came back and thought there was something to celebrate. They built statues about it, and they still march around and wave flags. But there was another group of people who came back from that war. They said: This horror should never be repeated. We don’t want our children to be part of this. And they organized and fought against war.
“They said: Carpenters and operating engineers from this country should not kill carpenters and operating engineers of other countries so that the wealthy can get even wealthier.
“And this struggle has been going on since that time. And lest you think that nothing has changed, think again. Because today they cannot march the troops down the streets. In Vietnam, we turned that thinking around, and it is no accident that many of the activists in this project went through the experience of opposing the Vietnam War.
“And when they try to whip up a hysteria against Iraq, or Iran, or Palestine, or Nicaragua or Cuba—we know that workers all over the world are of the same class, and have no interest in fighting and dying for oil corporations or any corporation! Those days are over! We will never go back to them!”
— Mike Alewitz at the mural inauguration, Dec. 13, 1997
Image: THE RESURRECTION OF WESLEY EVEREST
By Mike Alewitz & numerous volunteers / 1997
Centralia Washington / 20’ x 40’ (now destroyed)
Complete dedication and album: https://www.facebook.com/alewitz/media_set