Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Musings 95--Miracles don't happen in West Virginia.

After watching CNN and MSNBC for several hours last night, I went to bed at about 1 a.m. thinking that 12 of the 13 miners that had been trapped for 41 hours had been found alive. I should have known better--miracles don't happen in West Virginia.

Our printing business is in Huntington, WV. There is not too much deep mining in our area anymore. Most of the deep mines that are still in existence are dotted throughout the state. Mountaintop removal has become the latest way to dig for coal. It is much safer to the humans involved, but it scars the earth and makes the green people angry.

Back in the early part of the 20th century, there were bunches of coal mines to our southwest in Mingo and Logan Counties of West Virginia. One of the best movies ever made on the coal miners and unions of our region is called "Matewan." If you haven't seen it, give it a view.

Coal miners have been going underground and dying there for years. When I was a kid, you would hear of cave-ins all the time. In the last couple of decades, that has not been the case due to mine safety and government regulations.

When they said on CNN last night--and to be fair, CNN was only reporting what the happy people at the local church were saying--that the 12 miners were found and that they were alive, I felt that maybe the days of large losses of lives was really over for the coal mines. I mean, they saved those guys in Pennsylvania, didn't they.

There were all kinds of folks running around and saying that their prayers were answered. They were calling it a miracle. Only a miracle of Jesus, said one enthusiastic lady, could have saved the 12 miners. Many had their hands in the air and were giving thanks to God.

Well, we all should have remembered where we were. Miracles don't happen in West Virginia. They only happen on 34th Street in New York City, and since the Twin Towers went down, maybe not even there.

Suddenly, like all fake miracles, the truth came out that all were dead except one young man. Twelve dead and one still breathing. Shock, sorrow and anger replaced happiness and joy. People who had their faith renewed now found it shaken.

There was to be no miracle in West Virginia this night...or...was there? For the family of the young miner, who is clinging to life at WVU Medical Center, maybe that was the miracle. But, then again, maybe not. Maybe the grim reaper just overlooked him. This is, after all, West Virginia and miracles don't happen in West Virginia.


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