Wobbly War: The Centralia StoryJohn McClelland, Jr.
The Centralia Massacre was a violent and bloody incident that occurred in Centralia, Washington, USA on November 11, 1919, during a parade celebrating the first anniversary of Armistice Day. This conflict between the American Legion and workers who were members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or “Wobblies”) resulted in six deaths, additional wounded, multiple prison terms, and an ongoing and especially bitter dispute over the motivations and events that precipitated the massacre. It was the culmination of years of bad blood between members of the local Legion and members of the IWW. Both Centralia and the neighboring town of Chehalis had a large number of World War I veterans, with robust chapters of the Legion, as well as a large number of IWW members, some also war veterans. The ramifications of this event included a trial that attracted national media attention, notoriety that contributed to the Red Scare of 1919-20, the creation of a powerful martyr for the IWW, a monument to one side of the battle and a mural for the other, a formal tribute to the fallen Legionnaires by President Warren G. Harding, and a deep-rooted enmity between the local American Legion and the Wobblies that persisted into the 21st century.