I'm not a coal miner's daughter, but I was a coal miner's granddaughter and I'm pretty sure all my uncles worked the mines too, at one point or another. So news of the explosion at Upper Big Branch mine in West Virgina caused that sinking feeling I thought was long forgotten. Twenty-five dead and four missing. Just numbers to most of those hearing about the disaster, but to the families and community of Raleigh those numbers represent fathers, husbands, sons, friends.
They're saying it's the worst U.S. mining disaster in two decades. We're used to seeing news of mining accidents in other countries (China comes to mind) but not the United States. I would have hoped we had learned our lesson after the many explosions and cave-ins that occurred throughout the past century until stronger regulations and stiffer penalties went into effect. But regulations only work when there's compliance on the part of the mines.
We don't want to keep hearing about mine explosions that kill 25.
Or 38, as happened in my home town back in 1970.
We don't want to hear about even one more life being lost in the mines.
I just pray the missing men will be found alive.