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Louis Tikas Statue Unveiled at Coal Miners’ Memorial Park in Colorado (Photos)

June 29, 2018

TRINIDAD, CO – The bronze statue of Louis Tikas was unveiled at the Trinidad Coal Miners’ Memorial Park on June 23. Tikas, born Elias Anastasiou Spantidakis in Crete, was the main labor union organizer at the Ludlow camp during the Colorado Coal Strike of 1913-14. On April 20, 1914, the day after Greek Orthodox Easter, he was shot and killed by the Colorado National Guard in the Ludlow Massacre in which 19 people were killed including 2 women, 11 children, and one National Guardsman. The massacre was the bloodiest incident during the strike. The unveiling of the statue of Tikas, commemorates the Greek immigrant and union leader of the early 1900s who fought for labor rights in the coal mines of southern Colorado.

The event began at 4 PM, with the Cretan Dance Group performing at 4:30 and 4:50. The Foundation of Hellenism of America President Michael Servos spoke to The National Herald about the event where he gave a speech along with Cecil E. Roberts, President of the United Mine Workers of America International.

The events for June 23-24 began with the unveiling of the statue at Coal Miners Memorial Park, sponsored by the City of Trinidad, the Foundation of Hellenism of America, Pancretan Association of America, United Mine Workers of America, Hellenic Republic Government, and the Southern Colorado Coal Miner’s Committee.

A symposium on Tikas’ life, a screening of the documentary on the Ludlow Massacre and Tikas’ death, and a performance by a Cretan dance group from Colorado were also part of the weekend’s program as well as a visit to the Cemetery in Trinidad, CO where a Trisagion at the tomb of Louis Tikas was held with Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver presiding.

Servos told TNH that a section of highway was renamed in honor of the heroic Tikas. Through Servos’ initiative the town of Trinidad decided to name the Trinidad-Ludlow highway, “Louis Tikas Hwy.”

Tikas has been featured in recent documentaries including Palikari: Louis Tikas and Ludlow Massacre (2014) by director Nikos Ventouras and the award-winning Ludlow: Greek Americans in the Colorado Coal War (2016), produced by the non-profit company Apostolis Berdebes, producer of documentaries on the history of Greeks in America, and directed by Leonidas Vardaros. Ludlow co-Producer and researcher Frosso Tsouka spoke with TNH about the film in a previous interview before its New York premiere noting that “Ludlow tells the story of Greek immigrants who found themselves in distant Colorado working for many years under inhuman conditions of semi-slavery. They eventually united with thousands of other immigrant miners and took part in a long strike that started peacefully in 1913 and developed into an armed confrontation in April 1914, after the Ludlow Massacre and the murder of the Greek leader, Louis Tikas. The film has received awards at all the documentary festivals in Greece and has been embraced by the public of Greece and of the Greek Diaspora.”

Tsouka told TNH that buses from Denver brought members of the Greek community to the ceremony and she was among those in attendance as well as the Cultural Ambassador of the region of Crete and the new Director of the New York City Greek Film Festival Maria Tzompanaki.

“In addition to the Ludlow commemoration,” Tsouka told TNH that “there was a touching ceremony for those killed at one of the worst mine explosions that took place 3 years after Ludlow, on April 27, 1917, the Hastings explosion where 35 Greek miners were among the 121 killed.”

The union brought a bell on a tripod and set it up in a field at the location where the mine was, and they read the names of those killed and rang the bell after each name. She also noted, “Then there is the cemetery with all the crosses with the Greek names and the age of those buried there, all so young.”

The English Version of Ludlow, Greek Americans in the Colorado Coal War (2016) directed by Leonidas Vardaros, produced by Apostolis Berdebes Non Profit Company is now available online. https://vimeo.com/164340894

The film can be downloaded for personal use or public screenings of a non-commercial nature. If you embed the film on your website please give credit to the director and producer.

Visit www.ludlow.gr for more information and facebook.com/Ludlow.gr.

In March 2016, Ludlow was selected as Best Historical Documentary in the 18th Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival. In August 2016, the film received the 2nd Award for Feature Documentaries at the 3rd Ierapetra International Documentary Festival and in October 2016 it received the Best Editing Award at the 10th Chalkis Documentary Festival. The film team, consisting of director Leonidas Vardaros, cinematographer Prokopis Dafnos, researcher Frosso Tsouka, editor Xenofon Vardaros, sound engineer Andreas Gkovas, and narrator Rigas Axelos, gave its best in this truly collective effort. The production management was carried out by the members of the Apostolis Berdebes non-profit, Stefanos Plakas, Frosso Tsouka, and Lina Gousiou.

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