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Public workers memorial ceremony returns to La Crosse’s Green Island after pandemic downsizing

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After two years of holding on-line ceremonies during the pandemic, La Crosse area labor leaders invited the public to an in-person Workers Memorial Day ceremony on Thursday. 

The event held every year in late April honors people who died in the line of work. 

City firefighters often attend, but they were excused because so many had been busy fighting a downtown fire throughout the day.  Mayor Mitch Reynolds said it was a relief to know that no one died in the 4th Street fire, especially firefighters and street department workers.

Reynolds said the street crews were “putting themselves in harm’s way as well.” He said it was wonderful news that no one was killed or injured as a result of the India Curry House fire. “It would just be an incredible thing…for every workplace, if we could have, if every situation, there were simply no injuries that we had on the workplace.”

The Green Island ceremony featured the planting of dozens of white crosses, honoring people from firefighters to shop owners whose deaths were related to their jobs.  

State Senator Brad Pfaff spoke at Thursday’s ceremony, saying that America pays more attention to Wall Street than to workers on Main Street.

“Rather than investing in workers and people and communities here in western Wisconsin, here in the upper Midwest, here in this country, we’ve seen an exodus of manufacturing jobs and of family-supporting jobs,” Pfaff said. “That’s wrong, and that’s disappointing.”    

The yearly memorial service was organized by the Western Wisconsin AFL-CIO.    

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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