I listened yesterday to a good bit of the memorial for those who died in the Upper Big Branch tragedy and I read up on anything I might have missed. Lots of touching comments and appropriate gestures …. which, if you think about it, cannot be easy three weeks later.
Everything and everyone succeeded in putting faces and personalities to the names of the late miners, but also those they left behind. They did what a memorial ought to do by mourning and memorializing the people and what they and others do.
And what, you must be asking, does this have to do with a WVU sports blog? Well — and I’ll be brief and careful here, lest I crash another Web site — it’s quite obvious there is a firm attachment between the blue collared workers in this state and their Mountaineers.
The miners are among those who feel so strongly about WVU and, yes, it’s an illustration that can and maybe should be made when you try to understand who those people were. Veep Joe Biden grasped the very concept.
As Nick Rahall said, they were fathers, grandfathers, sons, nephews, husbands, and fiancés. They loved hunting, fishing, riding horses and four-wheelers. They hated the way Coach Rodriguez left West Virginia for Michigan. (Applause.) They rebuilt cars. They loved motorcycles. And they practiced random acts of kindness. They had their given names, but as we all learned today, they answered to Cuz, and PeeWee, and Smiley. Some had — some had been mining for decades, some for months. One was planning a wedding; one was planning for retirement. As individuals, these men were strong; they were proud; they were providers. Collectively, they represent what I believe is the heart and soul and the spine of this nation. (Applause.) And, ladies and gentlemen, the nation mourns them.