Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Tribute To The West Virginia Miners

For the past few days I have been touched by watching the rescue and recovery efforts of the miners in West Virginia. Pictures of their families waiting outside the entrance to the mines have been heart-wrenching. Their pain is unmistakable and their lives will never be the same. On what started out to be just a regular working day, these families bid their husbands/fathers/brothers/sons goodbye as they went off to work, not knowing their were bidding them farewell forever

I grew up in a logging town, and I feel a deep empathy for the folks who work at dangerous jobs. I remember my father being seriously injured at work. He had been hit on the head with a heavy chain, and we were told he would not live through the night. To everyone's amazement, he woke up the next morning and asked for some toast and coffee. My mother was so relieved, all she could say was, "Well, maybe this has finally knocked some sense into you..." But joking aside, it had been a very long night for all of us. The people we love should never have to die, by simply going out to earn their daily bread for their families.

According to Forbes Magazine, the ten most dangerous job are:

1. Logger
2. Pilot
3. Fishermen
4. Iron/Steel Worker
5. Garbage Collector
6. Farmer/Rancher
7. Roofer
8. Electrical Power Installer/Repairer
9. Sales, Delivery, and Other Truck Driver
10. Taxi Driver/Chauffeur

I'm astonished that taxi driver is on the list, and miner is not. My admiration goes out to these men, and to the men who also put their lives at risk by attempting to rescue and recover these folks. God speed...

Fearless, tough and friendly men.
Their comradeship renowned.
Right through that black iniquitous den,
Their laughter did resound.

Now mine itself entombed like they
No more will maim or kill.
The earth it's shroud, like them it lay
So silent, cold and still.

The valley such a finer place.
Returned to former scene.
If they but look with reverted face
Would gaze on pastures green.

... Aneurin Owen

29 comments:

Indian Pundit said...

Death is always sad. No matter who,where,how.....

"The people we love should never have to die, by simply going out to earn their daily bread for their families"

Very true.

Jo said...

IP, I know, it's very sad, isn't it? It's heartbreaking.

Linda said...

What I don't understand is the penalties for the lack of safety measures. What was it? $16M last year? Where does the $ go? Who gets it? The same with the penalties from the car industries...who gets the $? Where does it go?

The $ should go to the victims, or their families.

My heart goes out to the families.

Jo said...

Linda, that's a good question. Where does the money go? And does it even get paid? And yes, it is heartbreaking.

Nezzy said...

Amen. My heart goes out to those men and their precious families.

Have a good day filled with sunshiny blessings!!!

Single and Sane said...

I'm shocked that miners didn't make that list, too. It's so heartbreaking to see the same scenario played out again and again over the years.

Land of shimp said...

It is so very sad, and I can't really imagine the pain of the people who have lost their loved ones.

Like you, Jo, I'm surprised that miners are not on the list. My grandfather was a coal miner in Scotland, and eventually became the manager of the mine. He was in three separate cave-ins, one of which crushed his leg quite badly. I always think of it as being a very perilous profession.

I actually can understand Taxi Driver being on the list -- I think they are rather frequently robbed, and assaulted (well, frequently being a relative term...relative to bankers, they are frequently assaulted).

The one that really surprised me was Garbage Collectors! I think of that job as being unpleasant enough without adding danger to the equation.

PinkPanthress said...

My maternal grandfather was a coal miner in the east Ruhr-Area, doing underground mining.
Whenever my mom or I see miners buried or in danger on tv, we feel as if they were part of our family & get anxious for them...

It is not a good job, and should be in the top 3 of that List!

Jo said...

Nezzy, yes, my heart breaks for those families. Somehow it really touched me.

Single and Sane, I remember a few years ago in Washington state, the same thing happening. It's horrifying!

Alane, yes, I am surprised that miners are not on the list as well. I was also surprised to see fishermen on the list, but I do understand the danger in that profession. But we never hear about garbage collectors. Strange, hey???

The Mad Botanist said...

I don't live very far from Montcoal, in the beautiful mountains of southwestern Virginia near the border of West Virginia, and I can honestly tell you that incidents like this are not uncommon. Unfortunately, accidents happen in this coal country all the time, just not on this scale, which is why it's such a national story. It would be hard for me to count how many souls I know that go down into the dark places of the earth to merely support their families. It truly is sad. Great post.

kenju said...

Thanks for that. Although I grew up in West Virginia, the closest I have come to a miner is the one who married a second cousin. I have heard all my life, however, how dangerous it is to be a miner. I can't believe that mining isn't on that list.

DJan said...

I also read that one family lost three members in this disaster. How do you go on? My heart also goes out to them all, and I agree that those we love should never have to be put in harm's way. But this is what life and death are like, all over the world. :-(

Jo said...

Pink Panthress, yes, I feel a very deep empathy for the families of those miners, and for anyone who gets hurt at work. Whenever I see a helicopter landing on the roof of the hospital, I know it's a logger who has been hurt, and I feel very sad.

The Mad Botanist, I believe miners should definitely be on the list of dangerous professions. I don't understand why they are not. Right now as we speak, there are miners in West Virginia, and also in China, who have just lost their lives this week. It's very, very sad, isn't it?

Kenju, I think someone made a mistake. Miners should definitely be on that list. Can you even imagine doing what they do?

DJan, yes, I read that as well, that one family lost three members. I suppose in some of those mining communities, that is fairly common, but it is all the more heartbreaking.

Whitney Lee said...

I think the natural reaction is to be thankful that your family is all still safe; at least that's mine. And then I feel guilty for all that I still have while others have lost so much.

The list is interesting. I'm curious about why collecting garbage is so dangerous. I would think that miners would make the list long before them or farmers. I suppose it's all about percentages, and I'd imagine there are far more garbage men than there are miners.

wsxwhx742 said...

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Calvin said...

Just think. In China, almost 2,000 miners die each year. All for the pursuit of energy which we are so wasteful of. I am sorry people all around the world have to take on such risky jobs to make a living.

My prayers and hopes go out to those miners in West Virginia and their families.

KathyB. said...

I am surprised too that miners did not make the list, nor did soldiers....but garbage men? Now I know that is heavy and smelly work, but dangerous? I have NEVER heard of garbage men dying because of their work. Taxi cab drivers though, I have heard of plenty of them being killed by their passengers.Interesting Jo, I wonder how Forbes arrived at the order of this list.

I am watching the news about the miners too, and hoping there is some spark of good news, for the families.

the walking man said...

Think of all the nasty bacterial and viral growth that happens in garbage not to mention rats and other living creatures that get mixed in with the garbage. Think also of diving a 28000 pound vehicle down the road that may or may not have had the proper maintenance and then think of every time you cut one off in traffic. Not to mention the hydraulics on a garbage truck can kill the operator faster than a bullet.

To the owners of this mine, The Massey family, all I can say is God Damn you. You bastards ignored every single fine and citation for the production of coal because they were not heavy enough to warrant correction of the safety issues. Man hour production of grade A coal was all that you cared about. You can offer to pay for every funeral but I still say God Damn you.

Laurie said...

Thanks for this, Jo. Although there were no miners in my immediate family, my roots go deep into Virginia and West Virginia, and whatever happens there touches me deeply.

Charles Gramlich said...

Definitely a very tough job. I'm glad I didn't come from that tradition.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

It's a very sad loss and a particularly ghastly way to die. I feel for these people and their families, too, and agree completely that it's terribly wrong to die in the process of providing for ones family.

Katy said...

It just brakes my heart to think these deaths could have been prevented. But no, in the name of the almighty GDP we the people have deceided to put profits and jobs a head of human life.

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

Interesting list from the Forbes Magazine...according to this list my ranch job is more dangerous than working at the sheriffs dept..never would of looked at it like that but I guess it could be since I am coming close here lately to some bad accidents on the tractor.
Thank you for doing this post for the miners. It was gracious of you to think of them...very sad that so many lost their lives
Take care
Maggie

TomCat said...

Josie, they are in my thoughts and prayers.

In the US, sixteen people a day die as a result of on the job accidents. The saddest part is that so many are preventable. In my opinion, those miners were murdered by their employer.

Linda, the Massey company has paid less than 10% of the fimes they were assessed. They appealed the rest. In theory, the money from the fines goes to improve worker safety.

Pegi said...

I, like os many others have been praying & hoping that things would work out for the miners still underground. It was devestating to learn that all had perished.

While I have no family that mined, I did have family that worked in refining. I know there were times that we prayed my father would come home safe when we heard of a fire or explosion at the plant.


My family's heartfelt thanks & prayers fo out to every one of the families who lost a loved one & I know that we will think of each & every miner that risks their life everyday to get the coal from the ground.

May God watch over all of you & the communites that you live in to bring you out safe each & every day!

Paula Slade said...

That was such a tragedy. So many who live in West Virginia are all too familiar with loosing loved ones in the mines.

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Jennifer D said...

I am so sad about those miners and their families. Such a horror... I can't imagine how it feels to be waiting for a sign of life.
My grandfather was a Silver miner in Idaho. He was killed in a mine accident when my mother was five years old. My Grandma had just had her 6th child when it happened. My mother always missed him and my Grandma never remarried... he was her soulmate.
I am shocked at how more than 50 years later we are still losing people in mining accidents. It seems like we should be able to get the job done safely.

noteither said...

it's really strange that miner is not on the list :(