In West Virginia coal mining is truly part of almost every resident's life in one way or another. If we aren't a miner or have a family member who works there, we certainly have friends or neighbors who work underground.
Unfortunately this skill of removing the natural resource from the earth that gives us a livelihood, also sometimes takes those very lives is supports.
When the news of Monday's mine explosion in Raleigh County circulated, West Virginians began praying and hoping for these lost men. In many cases wives and children asked their own family members to stay home from the mines that night. The danger had just become too real.
But it seems that West Virginia coal miners also love their jobs. They take great pride in the dangerous, dirty work they perform. They proudly raise a hand-often filled with a glass, bottle, or can-when Alabama's Forty Hour Week (For A Livin') is sung or played. They put graphics of miners on the backs of their cars. They wear t-shirts showing their pride. There's even a very prominent group called Friends of Coal.
But now, in the wake of this tragedy, we all know we are more Friends of Coal Miners than we are of coal. West Virginians know that what really matters are people-family, friends, neighbors. We even consider those hundreds of miles away to be part of our big Mountain State family.
So please, say a prayer for the families of the victims, those who are taking part in the rescue effort, and those who are still not found. They are our brothers, fathers, husbands, and friends.