National Miners Day: Lawmakers pay tribute - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

National Miners Day: Lawmakers pay tribute

BLUEFIELD (WVVA) - West Virginia lawmakers expressed their appreciation for the region's coal miners on Friday -- National Miner's Day.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin encouraged fellow West Virginians to show their appreciation for miners and their families:

"Today on National Miner's Day, we honor and celebrate the bravest and most patriotic men and women I have ever met in my life. You can't talk about coal without talking about coal miners. My own family first came to America to work in the mines. Growing up in the small coal-mining town of Farmington, I saw just how proud and courageous all the miners were. The fact is they deserve the same respect as our military veterans – because they go down into the mines for the same reasons that our veterans took up arms. It's not just a job – it's a calling, a way of life, even an act of patriotism in the defense of this great country. I have always fought for and pledge to continue to fight for coal, and I hope that our miners know that as long as there's coal to mine, I will proudly stand by their side. I urge all West Virginians today to show appreciation for our hardworking miners and the mining families of this great state and our nation."

U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall said that miners should be honored, not just today, but every day:

"This weekend, families across the country will turn on Christmas lights, turn up the heat to keep out the cold, and turn on the TV to watch football with friends.  Meanwhile, deep underground, away from the public view, and too often away from the public consciousness, America's miners will be hard at work providing the energy that fuels these moments and comforts.  It is the work that miners have been doing for more than two centuries in our great country and their toil and sacrifice has enabled countless advances for our Nation and driven our economic vitality.

The role of the miner is just as important to our daily lives today as it was 100 years ago. Setting aside one day a year to acknowledge those who provide the energy we use each day of the year is a simple yet important way a grateful Nation can honor these men and women who have done so much for us and will continue to do even more throughout our future.

National Miner's Day falls in this month in recognition of "bloody December" in 1907 when more than 600 Appalachian miners lost their lives in less than three weeks.  While laws, safety inspections, and better equipment, thankfully, have helped to reduce the casualty rates among our Nation's miners, work must continue to prevent tragedies from visiting our coalfield communities. 

Twenty coal miners have perished in the mines this year. West Virginian's continue to bear the pain of the tragedies at Upper Big Branch, Aracoma, and Sago, and beyond. We have a solemn duty to protect our miners, both those that have come before us and those who are working underground at this hour.

We should honor our miners, not just today, but every day.  We should promote life-saving vigilance and work to protect the well-being of our miners long after they've hung up their hardhats for the last time.  And we should recognize the value of our miners to our national economy through policies that keep their jobs secure.

 Without our selfless and dedicated miners, American society would never have flourished, nor would it continue to function. It is fitting, therefore, that we recognize and honor these brave workers who have served our Nation quietly and faithfully for so many years."

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