Imagine: You’re finally home after a long day at work. After unlocking your front door, you instinctively turn on the lights and fall to your plush, comfy couch with a big sigh. You worked hard today. But now you’re home, and you’re warm and watching TV to relax. And chances are, you haven’t thought, for even a second, about what it took to provide your home with the light, heat, or electricity that you now enjoy with your family. But for approximately 83,000 coal miners in the United States, who risk their lives every day to provide us with the energy that allows us to maintain our comfortable, digital lifestyles, the source of that energy is as precious as life itself. Coal miners face death and injury every single day, and many never return to their own warm homes and comfy, plush couches.
“A miner’s life is like a sailor, aboard a ship to cross the waves;
Every day his life’s in danger, still he ventures, being brave;
Unlike you or me, a miner goes to work every day
Knowing that he is placing his life in grave danger.”
(Verse from an old mining song)
For more than 100 years, coal miners have been the backbone of West Virginia’s economy. And considering that West Virginia is the heart of America’s coal mining industry, it’s safe to say that coal miners have played a huge role in the overall economic success of our beloved country as well. In fact, without the selfless dedication of our miners, American society wouldn’t have flourished as it has, nor would it continue to function as it does. In consideration of the sacrifices that American miners have made for the overall good of the public, National Miner’s Day seeks to “honor each and every miner; past, present, and future.”
December, 1907 is known in the coal fields as “Bloody December.” On December 1st of that year, a gas explosion killed 34 miners in Fayette City, PA. Only five days later, on December 6th, the worst industrial accident in American history killed 361 in the tragic West Virginia Monongah mine disaster. 10 days later, an explosion in Yolande, Alabama killed another 57 miners, and on December 19th, 1907, another 239 lost their lives in a mine explosion in Jacobs Creek, Pennsylvania. National Miner’s Day occurs annually on December 6th, the anniversary of the Monongah disaster, as a remembrance of all lives lost in that fateful month.
Coal field fatality rates used to resemble the casualty lists from when America was at war. Thankfully, mining death rates have dropped significantly since Bloody December, due to new laws, safety inspections, and better safety equipment. Unfortunately, even with these safeguards in place, mining accidents still occur, as was a harsh reminder in 2006 when two separate West Virginia mine accidents killed 14 within a month. While National Miner’s Day honors our nation’s miners one day every year, these disasters serve as a daily reminder that no matter what we’re going through, it could be worse.
At HJ3 Composite Technologies, we work to make mines safer by structurally strengthening weakened components. We recognize the sacrifices that miners make every day, and in turn, try to provide a safer environment for them to earn a living. It’s just a small “thank you”. From all of us at HJ3, Happy National Miner’s Day!