Rahall Tribute to UBB Miners Calls for Renewed Commitment to The Health and Safety of Miners

HNN Staff
WHITESVILLE, WV (HNN) U.S. Representative Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) spoke Tuesday evening at the memorial service commemorating the one-year anniversary of the Upper Big Branch mine tragedy, reflecting on the lives of the 29 men who perished,
 the courage of their families, the commitment of rescue workers, and the obligation shared by those left behind to ensure the safety of miners laboring throughout America’s coalfields.  

            Below are Rahall’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:  

Remarks by U.S. Representative Nick J. Rahall, II
Upper Big Branch Mine Memorial Service
Whitesville, West Virginia April 5, 2011

  All of us have experienced occasions when something extraordinary occurs in our lives – some blessing comes our way or some tragedy strikes – and our view of the world, and of that date on the calendar, is forever altered.  

For those of us in this room today, April 5th is one such date.  For us, today, and from this day forward, April 5th will be a date that harkens memories of a tragic time that left a mark on our lives, on this state, and on our nation.  

Today, we reflect on the lives of 29 men who perished in the Upper Big Branch mine on April 5th 2010.  On this anniversary, we celebrate them. We remember them – each of them – as individuals, for the ways in which they touched the lives of so many others.  

I know them, through so many of you in this room today, as husbands and fathers, children or grandchildren, as friends, fishermen, sports fanatics, pranksters, vibrant personalities, good people, with potential and hope and expectations that were cut too short.  

On this day – this anniversary – we feel that great sense of loss for the hole they left in their wake throughout this community, a void that we can never expect to fill.   

So I think it is incumbent upon us, on this day, to also turn our attention to the responsibilities that we have to those men.  For some, there has been the obligation to continue to raise families.  For others, a duty to carry on in their footsteps, or to build upon the foundation of the good works they started.    

But we all share one obligation to them and to all miners – living and deceased. We must do all that we can to ensure that no other miners, and no other miners’ families, ever, ever have to suffer this way again.  

To the rescue workers here today, to the first responders, the members of the Whitesville Fire Department, the school personnel, the community members who gave their time, their energies and their compassion in response to the disaster at the Upper Big Branch Mine on April 5, 2010, we, once more, offer our respect and extend our gratitude.    

To all the families, to each of you who lost loved ones in the Upper Big Branch mine one year ago today, I was honored to spend those difficult days in your company and I am honored to be with you again today.    

You have with you today, and you will for all the years to come, the company and the support of those of us here now.  I hope you will find comfort in the knowledge that next year, and in all the years to follow, as the page on the calendar turns to April 5th, you will never be alone.  Our thoughts, and His strength and comfort will abide with you.   May God bless you.  May His light continue to shine on you and may His hand guide us now and always.
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