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The 17th Annual West Virginia Coal Festival begins in Madison, WV on Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 6 p.m. and will end at approximately 11 p.m. on June 19th.  Patriot Coal Corp. will be sponsoring the Mining Equipment Display which will be available during these times.
The 17th Annual West Virginia Coal Festival begins in Madison, WV on Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 6 p.m. and will end at approximately 11 p.m. on June 19th.  Patriot Coal Corp. will be sponsoring the Mining Equipment Display which will be available during these times.

It would be embarrassing if it were not so humbling.

Hours after the West Virginia mine explosion Monday, scores of journalists from all over the country started arriving - in a very rural area with no communications or places to sleep closer than an hour's drive away.

When the governor began giving press briefings at Marsh Fork Elementary School (this week happens to be spring break, so the children are out), journalists began getting comfortable at the site a few miles from the mine entrance, and we never left. By Tuesday, a couple dozen satellite trucks filled the parking lot, and classrooms with tiny chairs and paintings on the walls were turned into newsrooms and bedrooms.

WE go to desperate lengths to get the energy we use, and we have been doing it for a very long time now.

But the developed world has had heat, light, air conditioning, washers, dryers, vacuum cleaners, cars, trucks and computers for so many decades now that a dangerous disconnect has developed.

Most Americans don't have any idea where their comforts and conveniences come from, and never give it a thought.

A pair of tall black boots and a lunch pail sat near the altar Sunday at the New Life Assembly church - a memorial to the 29 men killed in the worst U.S. mining disaster since 1970 and a thank-you to those who make their living inside the mountains.

This day, the first Sunday since last Monday's explosion killed 28 workers and a contractor at Massey Energy Co.'s Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, was for many a time to honor the profession. Tears of mourning fell, and arms swayed in worship among the 50 people gathered at the church.

Pastor Gary Williams, who has worked at Massey Energy mines for 18 years, knew many of the victims. On his way to church Sunday morning, he heard Ricky Workman's name among them for the first time.

"I know his child. I know his wife. He's a part of my family. He's a part of my life," Williams said, tears falling. "Over time, our hearts and the emptiness that we have inside will fade away, but I don't never want to forget what happened April 5, 2010."


West Virginia Coal Association - PO Box 3923 - Charleston, WV 25339 | 304-342-4153 | website developed by brickswithoutstraw