In Montcoal, West Virginia on the day after Easter Sunday, 5 April 2010 which is also known as Angel's Monday in Italy, a terrible explosion ripped through a coal mine and killed what would finally be 29 miners. Men from Massey Energy Co.'s Upper Big Branchwent to work that day, expecting a day as usual as any other, but instead were part of the worst mining disaster since 38 lives were lost in Kentucky in 1970. We, speaking as most Americans, take our energy for granted. Yeah, we all hear about green energy (which doesn't even really exist yet) and some of us recycle and such, but how many really know the whole story behind our electricity?
If I had not pursued our family history, this
story may have been just another tragedy to me, but now I have a real
connection with the families that lost loved ones in those dark tunnels. As I wrote here in this blog, one of my first in fact, my wife's grandfather came to America as a young Italian immigrant, spent most of his young life in the coal mines of Pennsylvania. He became an American citizen, and went back to the old country to marry his sweetheart. They came back to America to raise a family and have a new beginning in New York, but Natale died soon after his son was born. He died of black lung; he died from the mines, although not in them.
We've been commercially mining coal in America since the 1730's and it's still a dirty, dangerous business. Although there are other ways to mine coal from the surface, 60% of our coal is deep within the earth and that means the need for men and women to dig, make shafts, and physically pull the coal out still exists. Today's miners are highly educated and skilled, producing more coal per year than ever before, while using less manpower than ever before. Even with this modern technology, they still have to deal with the dust, the gases, the dirt, and of course the danger. Mining towns are still close knit areas, still often having families that have generations of miners working in them. Like all jobs of this sort, we don't truly pay our workers what they are really worth, we never can. I mean it makes sense to pay an athlete, actor, or CEO that has a knack for cutting jobs millions of dollars, but whether it's cops, firefighters, paramedics, hospital personnel, our military, teachers, mass transit, or energy workers; we can only pay them what's left over in some top heavy budget.
My wife's grandfather could have been one of those who died in the mines, and then, no wife. Now thankfully, I believe God has a plan and just as thankfully, I have a wife. However, there are twenty-nine individuals that are no longer on this earth. Everything they were to do in this life is done, whether they were new on the job, or had five weeks to retirement. So as we read about this disaster, I ask that you look at two things: Do we appreciate why we should conserve energy and put resources into making it cleaner and easier? I don't think we're killing our planet, but we are killing our people. Let's go back to the goal of reducing pollution and finding ways of making energy that is easier to make and continue. Then, I want you to ask if you live each day like it's your last. Do you know your Creator? Do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ? You may have your own ideas of faith of religion, but are you sure? I think this current administration of ours has said, "never let a tragedy go to waste". This time, I agree.