It's 3:00 a.m. and the alarm is going off. You haven't seen daylight in years, but you do what you have to do. This is your livelihood. You get up and dress, pack a cold lunch and drive, maybe a few minutes, maybe hours. When you get to work, you put on a hardhat and lay down on a trolley--the man-car--that will take you deep into a mountain. Thousands of feet deep.
The hole you enter in only 20 or 30 inches high and the tunnel is no bigger. A thousand feet or more you ride down into the mountain. Thousands of pounds of dirt and rock are above you, held up only by columns of the same dirt and rock every twenty feet. You can crawl on your knees, but there is no standing up. The pitch blackness is unforgiving, even the light on your hardhat won't pierce it. You see only what your headlight shines directly on. The air is thick and full of dust and it's so hard to breathe. But you have to go into that hole in the mountain; and in this hole, you stay for ten to twelve hours a day, six days a week. Mining coal. For your family, for your life. For electricity that powers part of our country. And while inside that deep, dark hole, a blast. Heat.
I am the daughter of a coal miner and my husband once worked the mines. This is not fiction, my friends. This is absolute truth. My husband's father is a coal miner. This is the life they lead. Constant darkness, constant danger. Breathing god knows what for however long. They do it for you, for me, for themselves. It's not just a job. It's their entire life. A man who spends his life inside a black hole deserves respect, and they all have mine.
The county next to mine is suffering. 25 dead miners and 4 still unaccounted for. My state is in turmoil. That job was all some of those men had to provide for their families. 25 families. If there are four members in each of those families, that's 100 people affected by this mine explosion. And that may just be a wife and three kids. What if they had 4 kids? Or 6? This doesn't include mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, grandparents... grandchildren. Hundreds of people in anguish... and the coal company is non-union. They don't have to do anything for these people. They may... but they don't have to.
If you are willing to help those affected, and can, please visit The Red Cross Central WV website for information on what you can do. I'm sure everyone has seen the news reports. It's on the national media circuit. The Montcoal Mine Explosion (link to article on Newsweek) is the worst in years. My thoughts go out to the four still missing, and my heart aches for the family members of the 25 already found dead. If you can... please...