February 08, 2017
A steelworker’s daughter
This is the Steelworkers' Memorial in Steubenville, Ohio. My dad worked as a steelworker for 45 years. For years, he volunteered to help with the memorial’s upkeep, weeding & mowing, picking up litter. We stopped to look at it while in Ohio last week, looks like someone else took over that responsibility. This monument stirs up so many thoughts & emotions for me. I remember getting my very first tour inside what was once Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel. It was both fascinating and frightening to see where my dad worked. High stairs. Hot, molten steel. Dust, graphite and more in the air. I think about all the years he spent doing that dangerous job so my parents could help me go to college and have a better life. I think about all the sacrifices they made. It makes me sad to see what has happened to Steubenville since I left home. The mills once employed thousands. Now, that number is only at a few hundred. Businesses are closed. The Fort Steuben Mall is in foreclosure. What were once beautiful, historic homes downtown are now crumbling. I won’t even post the picture of our first home - it’s been trashed. Someone bought the property behind it at auction for just $50. I wish for a comeback for this great city. I’d love to see the steel jobs return – but I doubt they will. Those jobs eroded over years of broken promises from politicians on both sides of the aisle. And quite like the case with automakers, automation changed the industry, requiring fewer workers. I remember how hard my dad worked. Shift work. Forced doubles. But he never complained. (OK – maybe about those forced doubles) Dad’s retired now. And I couldn’t be happier that he’s no longer working in a steel mill. I hope those who are still in the mill stay safe and that their jobs are secure. My parents both had/have an incredible work ethic, which got passed down to me. I’m so lucky to love my job, even though we journalists are now being called the “opposition party” and worse. Every day, I get up, I work hard and try to do my best. Here’s to all of you who are doing the same. steelworker
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