Many younger people spend their time deriding the coal industry without taking into consideration the lives of the people who work in the mines. The miners are simply dismissed as a handful of left-behind workers from another era, who are now standing in the way of “sustainability.” What these people don’t understand is that coal was the backbone of the Industrial Revolution and the engine that powered America. It’s not just going to disappear; you can’t wipe out a history of 150 years, and you can’t forget about the people who have risked–and still risk–their lives in the mines every day.
Coal is a dirty business, and as I’ve written myself, a lot of the coal companies are just as dirty. There’s no doubt that changes have to be made in the coal industry for environmental reasons, not to mention the safety of workers. But until the climate changers get themselves down into the hills and hollows of West Virginia, Virginia, and Kentucky, and see the human faces of the coal business, they’re not going to get anywhere.
Ken Ward, a reporter for the Charleston Gazette in West Virginia, is a journalist who gets coal. If you want to know about the business and what it means to the people who live in these hills, take a look at his writing from time to time. This morning I went to Ward’s Coal Tattoo blog and found this entry,which seems to me to tell it all. So I am reprinting it in full.
Michael Lee “Cuz” Elswick, 56, of Elkview went to be with the Lord on Monday, April 5, 2010, after a terrible mining accident.
He was preceded in death by his mother and father, Lee and Willidean Elswick of Wharton.
Michael was an employee of Massey Energy, a dedicated coal miner of 36 years. He was a member of the Dunbar First Church of God and a very dedicated husband, father, grandfather and friend to all he met.
Michael is survived by his loving wife of 36 years, Bobbie Elmore Elswick; son, Jeremy Elswick; daughter, Jami Cash and husband, Philip; and grandchildren, Justin and Hannah Cash, all of Elkview; sister, Pam Miller of Wharton; and brothers, Larry Elswick of Charleston and Steven Elswick of Wharton.
He will be very deeply missed by all who knew and loved him.
God bless all the families who lost their loved ones that horrific day at the UBB Mine.