April 8, 2010
Posted: 06:40 PM ET
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By Andrea Beaumont, Larry King Live Producer
I have never been to West Virginia before. I have never seen the rolling hills or driven the winding roads dotted with mines. Mines are the lifeline of this area and there is one around every corner. Everyone has some connection to mining. The people here are risking their lives everyday in the mines to make sure we can turn on the power in our homes. Whether you like it or not, coal is a big part of our country’s power system. And there’s a lot you can learn from the people in these coal mining communities.
These are men who work long hours to feed their families. But they are also men who believe in God and go to church on Sundays. They are families who pray together every Sunday morning and still gather as a family for Sunday dinner. The instant they heard of an explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine the people of Southern West Virginia started a prayer chain. And within hours there was food for families who gathered together awaiting any word about the fate of their loved ones. There was even food for the media who came to cover the story.
I learned this week that there is an old coal mining tradition that when men come home to their families, covered in soot from the day, they always make sure their lunch buckets have a special treat for the kids. Children across coal country are excited to find out what their dads have brought them after a long day of work. And that is why these men venture into the mines everyday – to make sure their kids are taken care of.
Sometimes I think that the rest of the country has lost track of these values – the values of family and community. I barely know my neighbors. And the people here could tell you who just about everyone in their town is. When they held a vigil last night in Whitesville, West Virginia dozens of people came to walk the streets with candles in memory of the men that died in the mine. One miner brought his family an hour and 45 minutes, still covered in soot from a long day’s work, to honor his fallen comrades.
While these coal mining towns in West Virginia pray for the four miners they hope are still alive and bury 25 of their friends and family, let’s take a moment out of our lives to remember what they have taught me is truly important – friends and family.
Filed under: LKL Web Exclusive
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