I attended a presentation on the Haymarket Tragedy at the Oak Park Public Library on April 12. The highlight of the evening featured local artist and conservator Andrzej Dajnowski, whose studio is at 900 S. Desplaines Ave. – across the street from the Haymarket monument at Forest Home Cemetery, which he has been working to restore.
The monument for the Haymarket martyrs was erected in 1893 and it marks the graves of the eight men convicted of causing the riot, which ensued when someone threw a bomb into a crowd of people attending a rally for the eight-hour workday. Four of the men were executed, but Governor John Altgeld later pardoned all of them.
As I was sitting there, I could not help but feel that the presentation should have been taking place in Forest Park. The monument site became a national landmark in 1997 and it has been an international destination since the dedication in 1893 when people who came to Chicago for the World’s Fair visited the site.
On May 1 (May Day), a rededication will take place in honor of the 125th anniversary of this momentous event. Hundreds of people are expected to attend. At the original dedication, it was estimated that 8000 people were there.
I feel that Forest Park is missing an excellent opportunity to showcase the village and the wealth of history that resides in its hallowed grounds. There is still time for Forest Parkers to get out and support the project. The Illinois Labor History Society is still accepting donations to cover the costs of the restoration. I hope that Forest Parkers will support their endeavors and help maintain this international shrine to the labor movement for future generations.
-Kenneth J Knack
Author of “Images of America: Forest Park”