Originally published by The Buffalo News, Letter to the Editor, “Steel plant building can honor workers” by Mary Horowitz, 2012 10 11.
With reference to the recent letter about preserving the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building, my view is quite different. Her letter referred to the dangerous and soul-destroying labor the workers had to endure, and she could see no reason for preserving a building that brought back so many bad memories. I sympathize with that point of view and can completely understand it.
My own father was a factory worker for 43 years, fortunately not tending a blast furnace or in a dangerous position. But he was a part of the 20th century industrial force that saved this country, indeed the world, during World War II and that created the vast middle class that was America of that time. Because of my father’s hard work, his children and grandchildren were able to go to college and get advanced degrees. From poor farm boy to factory worker to professional in two generations, that was his accomplishment and for that I will remember him with my undying thanks and respect.
His was the story of millions of factory workers, including those at Bethlehem Steel. Yes, the corporate executives and owners profited greatly; that’s the story of capitalism. But those who worked so hard in the factories should be honored for their accomplishments and toil.
The blast furnaces, tall chimneys and grimy buildings are gone, and some would say good riddance. But the elegant and dignified Administration Building, which has stood since the earliest days of the company, should be seen as a symbol honoring all those generations of men and women who worked so hard to support their families and to raise their children to find their own successes and accomplishments. There could be no more beautiful reminder and memorial.