I don’t think that Gerry Horrigan ever set out to be a hero for the labor movement, but he has become one. Gerry was a man who always did the right thing. He always thought about others first.
In 1989, CWA Local 1400 was in the midst of a bitter strike. The New York City Local, (NYNEX) was fighting for affordable healthcare benefits for its members. Gerry Horrigan was a chief steward from another Local in the area, CWA Local 1103. It was important to him to show his support to the members from 1400. He was a beloved husband. He had two beautiful daughters, Christine, age 2 1/2, and Danielle, only 7 months old. It was not Gerry’s strike. But Gerry, being Gerry, always thought about others. So he went to walk that picket line with his Union sisters and brothers on that fateful day, and never went home to his family again.
Gerry had a history of helping others. He was a veteran, having served in the United States Marines. He was the Chief of the Valley Cottage Volunteer Fire Department. And when he saw tragic accidents in the Palisades Mountain as a volunteer fireman, he developed the Mountain Rescue Squad. He was the team leader of this group of volunteers who would rescue climbers who had become trapped or injured in these treacherous mountains.
Gerry was struck and killed by a scab as he walked on a sidewalk in the picket line. Gerry’s legacy is not just how he died; it is how he lived. We wear red on Thursday, the day of the week he died, to honor him. He made the ultimate sacrifice for what so many of us take for granted. Thanks to Gerry and others who have fought so hard through the years, we all have a better life.
We wear red to say thank you for their sacrifice. We wear red to honor his legacy. We wear red to show solidarity. So please, next Thursday, as you are getting ready to start your day, think about Gerry. It really is such a simple gesture but sometimes, the simplest of gestures, can speak volumes. And I know, that somewhere, someplace, Gerry is saying thank you.