Where will you be at 3:30 today?


Coal mining is a tough and dirty business.  Even before you go near a mine shaft.

Governor Joe Manchin of West Virginia has called for a moment of silence at 3:30 today to honor the 29 miners killed at the Upper Big-Branch Mine-South. I hope you can join in.  Just for a moment.

Social Media is with them:  There is a Facebook fan page called “I support Coal and Coal Miners” that has 27,312 fans as of this writing.  I just grabbed the top post I saw and wanted to share it with you.

Ann Shelton writes,”Grandfather, father, father of my children…all coal miners…all died with black lung.  All were union men. Never complained about the hard work, were proud to be miners. Are there still men like this out there?”

Not me.

I also know the story of a man who killed himself in 1946 to support his family. This tells you what kind of people coal miners are.  Out of work and desperate, Ross Craig was seeing his children starve right before his eyes. So he hanged himself on his back porch to provide his wife and kids with the $90 a month from Aid To Families With Dependent Children.

I found a collection of last letters entitled: “Oh God, For One More Breath.” It is a series of final letters of Tennessee Coal Miners’ last words.  Here is one from 1902.

From Henry Beach: Alice, do the best you can; I am going to rest. Good-bye dear.

Little Ellen darling, good-bye for us both. Elbert said the Lord had saved him. Do the best you can with the children. We are all praying for air to support us; but it is getting so bad without any air. Howard, Elbert said for you to wear his shoes and clothing. It is now 2:30 o’clock. Powell Harmon’s watch is in Audrey Wood’s hands. Ellen, I want you to live right and come to Heaven. Raise the children the best you can. Oh, how I wish to be with you. Good-bye all of you, good-bye. Bury me and Elbert in the same grave. My little Eddie, good-bye. Ellen, good-bye. Lillie, good-bye. Jimmie, good-bye. Horace. There are a few of us alive yet. Oh, God, for one more breath. Ellen remember me as long as you live. Good-bye darling- Henry

I almost don’t know how to end this post other than to ask that you pass it on, pray for the miners and their families.  Thanks. ~Mike

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12 Responses to “Where will you be at 3:30 today?”

  1. Vernon Noyes Says:

    For those of you who support coal mining, you can join http://iSupportCoal.com for free.

  2. The world holds its breath « Mike LaMonica's Blog Says:

    […] 15 minutes of each of their lives. I’ve written on Coal Miners before in a post called “Where will you be at 3:30 today?” I hope to write a completely different story than that one […]

  3. Owen O'Malley Says:

    MIke,

    Very touching…I will set my alarm.

    Owen

  4. Jan Idelman Says:

    Very powerful. At 3:30 I will be silent for these victims and all the ones who have come before.

  5. mmwine Says:

    Mike
    Thank for the post. I have a close connection to a coal mine, and a number of guys who go down in the mine daily. It’s heartbreaking when something like this happens. The company, i am sure, did everything they could to ensure the safety of their workers, and tried their hardest to get to them safely. I’m sure all kinds of stories, negative and positive, will come out of this. In the end, I hope that it’s not a lost moment, and some good can come out of it, even if it’s the safety of future miners.

    One last note – the story of the father who killed himself to help his family. I’m sure that during desperate times, people think of things like this. While it may solve a financial burden, it creates all new problems for everyone involved. I hate to even think that we’re trying to solve problems via death, regardless of the self-sacrifice.

  6. Jarret Says:

    Great post, makes you think of the tragedy this job brings. Along with the quick death of a cave in to the slow death of black lung. This is a rough job, and it takes a rough man to do it.

  7. Jeannette Says:

    That was beautiful Mike. Setting the phone alarm for 3:30 and passing it along.

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