This April 5, on its third anniversary, the Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce will remember the miners who died in the Upper Big Branch mine explosion by unveiling a memorial marker placed on the Raleigh County Courthouse lawn.
A reception with remarks will be held at 2 p.m. in the former Burnside Courtroom on the second floor of the courthouse.
The marker will then be unveiled on the courthouse lawn at 3 p.m.
“We feel that when we acknowledge the lives of the lost, we acknowledge those who continue to do the work to make the steel and provide electricity to make our lives possible and support Raleigh County,” said Mick Bates, chamber member and project chair. “Coal has been part of our history and will be part of our future, and those that do this dangerous work make our lives what they are.”
Bates noted that between 1891 and 2000, some 2,126 miners were killed in Raleigh County alone. Since 2000, 49 miners in Raleigh have been killed.
“People sometimes take electricity for granted, but we want to make sure that is not the case for those who mine the coal and provide power for Raleigh County, West Virginia and the nation. We recognize their contributions,” he said.
The memorial will list the name of each of the 29 miners who died in the explosion, their ages and their job in the mine.
Bates explained that this dedication will be to memorialize the death of the 29 as well as honor those still mining coal today.
“This is a way for our community to acknowledge this event and assist us in healing and moving forward,” he added.
Bates said dignitaries have been invited to attend the unveiling.
The Raleigh County Courthouse UBB Miners Memorial Marker has been funded through a partnership among the chamber of commerce, the Raleigh County Commission and a state grant.
All are welcome to attend. Please RSVP by e-mailing Ellen Taylor, executive director of the Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce, at email@example.com, or via phone, 304-255-7328.
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