The Times West Virginian

Opinion

December 6, 2013

Miner’s Day: Recognize contributions and sacrifice

We must always recognize the contributions and sacrifice of our nation’s miners.

That’s a message being reinforced today, the fourth annual National Miner’s Day.

The observance was the dream of Fairmont artist Creed Holden, a Doddridge County native who moved to Marion County to attend Fairmont State.

“I learned about the miners themselves, the people who did the actual mining of the coal,” he said. “Their stories tugged at my heartstrings. They worked so hard and were paid too little.”

On Feb. 17, 2006, the West Virginia Legislature completed legislation creating Miner’s Day to “honor each and every miner, past, present and future.”

Then, on Dec. 3, 2009, the U.S. Senate officially passed a resolution making Miner’s Day a commemorative holiday each Dec. 6.

U.S. Reps. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and U.S. Sens. Robert C. Byrd and Jay Rockefeller, both D­-W.Va., jointly introduced a resolution in both houses of Congress to support the goals and ideals of a National Miner’s Day.

The date of Dec. 6 was selected because it is the anniversary of the worst industrial accident in American history, in 1907, that took place in Monongah. At least 361 men and boys perished in a devastating mine explosion.

In West Virginia, of course, coal mining is the focus, but today all the nation’s miners are being honored.

Joseph A. Main, the assistant secretary of labor for Mine Safety and Health, stressed this point in a letter sent this week to the Sun Advocate in Utah.

“American miners play a much larger role in our lives than most people realize. They extract a variety of raw materials, such as coal, copper, phosphate, silver, limestone, iron and zinc — ores that are essential components in the products we use every day,” Main said.

“Coal, and the electricity generated by coal power, play prominent roles in our homes, businesses and communities. Miners produce the gravel, crushed stone, tar, asphalt, road salt and cement used to build the roads we travel on and to make them safer. The bridges we build to span canyons and rivers are built with rock and mineral products produced by miners.

“Gold, silver and copper wiring, ceramic insulators, and silicon processing and memory chips are essential components in electronics that we use daily, such as smartphones, computers and televisions.

“Thousands of everyday consumer goods are made with the fundamental materials secured from the hard work of miners. They range from cosmetics to toothpaste, from cookware and dinnerware to appliances.”

There has been plenty of sacrifice along with the contributions of miners. Marion County last month marked the 45th anniversary of the 1968 Farmington mine disaster that took 78 lives.

“It was then that West Virginians finally said enough is enough,” said Mike Caputo, a coal miner who now serves as United Mine Workers District 31 international vice president and as majority whip in the state House of Delegates. “People should not have to go to work worrying about whether they are going to make it home to their families at the end of the day.”

The Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, and the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 were passed.

Mining is indeed safer but not safe.

As Caputo noted, the 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine explosion in Raleigh County killed 29 miners, and there are on average dozens of mine fatalities each year.

Main said that “through the ‘End Black Lung — Act Now’ initiative and other occupational health efforts, we are making progress in limiting miners’ exposure to respirable dust and other harmful contaminants. While more needs to be done to prevent death, injury and illness in the nation’s mines, our efforts and collaboration with labor and industry stakeholders are showing positive results.”

That progress must never be slowed as we are reminded this Miner’s Day, an occasion to officially mark so many years of contributions and sacrifice that we must never forget.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Laws to keep mudslinging to minimum can stife free speech

    By nature, and by profession, we do not like lies. As journalists, we’re truth tellers. Or at least we attempt to get at the truth through research, attribution, documents and comments from people on either side of an issue.
    Sometimes it ends up with “telling lies from both sides,” as a crusty reporter once mused a handful of years ago.

    April 24, 2014

  • COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay

    Several years ago, I made a Freedom of Information request to a local government agency. Within the five business days, as required by law, a packet of information was delivered to the office. I expected a bill, as most government offices have a charge that ranges from 25 cents to $1.25 per page for copies of the documents we request.

    April 20, 2014

  • The reassuring spirit of Easter: One of new hope and beginnings

    During the sub-zero and snow-filled months of winter, we maintained a spirit of hope that spring was on the way. It has now become a reality as all nature stretches and yawns and awakens once more to a new beginning. The fragrance of spring awakens our waiting nostrils, the budding beauty of new life brightens our eyes, and the reassuring idea of renewal stimulates our minds.

    April 20, 2014

  • Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated

    Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
    During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.

    April 18, 2014

  • Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives

    A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
    Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
    The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.

    April 17, 2014

  • State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary

    Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
    For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
    Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.

    April 16, 2014

  • Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better

    When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
    So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.

    April 13, 2014

  • COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable

    Instant.
    That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
    But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
    Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!

    April 13, 2014

  • Decision to be an organ donor can save lives

    Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
    So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.

    April 11, 2014

  • Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community

    Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
    Marion County is full of volunteers.
    They read to our youth.
    They assist nonprofit agencies.
    They serve on boards and committees.
    And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.

    April 10, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads