December 06, 2014

Say ‘thank you’ to a miner today | Bluefield Daily Telegraph

Today we celebrate National Miner’s Day, an incredibly meaningful day of recognition not only for the state of West Virginia, but for our entire country. This nation was built on the backs of our coal miners, and today, miners continue to go to work every day to provide millions of Americans with the electricity that powers our lives. That is why it is so important that we take the time to thank them for all that they have done and continue to do for the sake of our livelihood.

Over the course of our history, coal mining has been the core of West Virginian and American vitality, and it has been life-giving to the progression of every local community across the country. It opened the door for American industrialization, providing the energy and the steel that built our infrastructure and established a quality of life and prosperity that has developed the United States of America into the greatest country in the world. Today, coal generates nearly 37 percent of our electricity, and it will continue to be our most significant source of electricity for decades to come.

But you can’t tell the story of coal without talking about our coal miners, the bravest and some of the most patriotic men and women I know. We owe them our gratitude for their constant strength and fearless dedication, and they deserve our utmost and whole-hearted respect for putting their lives on the line every day to advance this country. For our miners, it’s not just a job — it’s a way of life and a true act of patriotism. It has always made me so proud to have the honor of representing our state’s miners, whose work ethic is truly second to none.

As we take a moment to honor and reflect on the tremendous contributions of our miners, let us especially commemorate those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to mine the coal that has made this great country the place it is today.

Growing up in the small coal-mining town of Farmington, I witnessed at a young age the pride and resilience of our miners. In 1968, after the Farmington No. 9 mine disaster that claimed 78 victims, including my uncle and several of my classmates, I experienced the hardship and tragedy that sometimes mark mining communities.

Yet, I also felt the healing strength of coal mining families. As governor, in the wake of the Upper Big Branch, Sago and Aracoma disasters, I understood how important it was to treat the victims’ families the same way that I would have wanted state leaders to treat my family and those families who lost loved ones all those years ago in Farmington. I knew how important it was to stay with the families during those disasters and give them up-to-date information as we received it, and I continue to remain close with those brave West Virginians. The miners of West Virginia and their families will always be a true an inspiration for me.

While nothing can replace the beloved miners who we lost in horrific disasters, all miners and their families should be assured that the loss of their loved ones will not be remembered in vain. I will always make it my top priority to stand up for the safety of our coal miners. Likewise, I will continue to fight vigorously in Congress to develop advanced technology that allows us to continue to use American coal to help achieve energy independence for our country — which will ensure our national security and protect coal mining jobs.

So today, it is my privilege to say “thank you.” I encourage every single West Virginian and American to thank a coal miner today. It is because of their sacrifices that we have sustained the way of life we enjoy today. Generation after generation of coal miners have done the job that many people would not to keep our great nation free and strong.

The selflessness and bravery of our miners has never faltered, and for this we thank them on this National Miner’s Day.

Joe Manchin is a Democratic member of the United States Senate representing the state of West Virginia.

By:  By Joe Manchin