Back in January I was playing in Fresno around the 65th anniversary of the Plane Crash at Los Gatos, popularized in Woody’s song “Deportees.” While digging around for stuff to make my intro that night a little more informative I discovered that the “deportees” were buried in a mass grave in Fresno’s Holy Cross cemetery. While visiting the grave it occurred to me that these folks were being deported because their work visas had expired and somewhere they had names. Thanks to the curiosity and work of a bunch of us (cemetery director, Carlos Rascon, and writer Tim Hernandez) we now have the names and on Labor Day, September 2, 2013, the diocese of Fresno (which operates the cemetery) along with the Woody Guthrie Foundation and the Cesar Chavez Foundation are going to erect a memorial finally giving these people their names and their families some peace.
A big celebration is planned, a memorial Mass, a parade with mariachis, dancers, etc. and the dedication of the memorial.
You’re waiting for a “but,” right? Here it is…
We are $2000 short in raising the money for the memorial. There are lots of in-kind offerings from marble and ceramic companies but the engraving, site prep, etc. costs about $10,000. And that doesn’t even account for upkeep and maintenance once it is erected.
I know you know what this song means. What songs like this mean. In a world of 24-hour news cycles, a song kept a story alive for 65 years. Long enough to lead people who were not even born when the event happened to finally solve a mystery that haunted everyone who ever heard or sang this song. I also thought my Union ought to have a hand in this. “Can you find someone to write us a $2000 check?” I was asked. “Sure,” I said, “but wouldn’t you rather have 200 people write $10 checks?”
Please join me, join us, in bringing justice at long last to this story.
If you would like your donation to be tax-deductible, please make your check out to:
“Saint Peter’s Cemetery”. Be sure to write ATTN: HOLY CROSS MEMORIAL in the memo portion of your check.
If you are not concerned with the tax-deduction, please make your check out to Local 1000 with ATTN: HOLY CROSS MEMORIAL written in the memo portion of your check.
We hope to have the additional money raised by July 1, 2013. Local 1000 will then take all checks and send them in one big batch to Saint Peter’s Cemetary.
Please send all checks to:
AFM Local 1000
Attn: Deportees Memorial
322 W. 48th St., 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10036
Thanks for your time, for your generosity, and for all the work you do.