Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Living in West Virginia During the Mine Tragedy...again...

Be forewarned: this is a rambling rant, but I'm angry and this is what happens when I get angry. You may not like me when I'm angry. I don't care.

As if you couldn't tell from the title of this blog, I'm a Jersey girl; however, my beloved is a West Virginian and we all now live here; I love this state and the people here. All that being said, I'd like to give you, dear readers, a glimpse into just why the coal mining tragedy is such a huge deal to every person here.

Being from NJ, when I tell you that I'm from a working-class family I mean that I am from a family of postal workers, school teachers, and engineers; you know - Bruce Springsteen song kinda stuff. My Beau is from WV. Although his family is now considered 'well-off' (hello - a moat!!), he too is from a working class family. But in WV a working class family is something totally different from (quite literally) anywhere else in America. Beau is from coal miners and farmers as is everyone else; every person whose family has lived in WV for more than two generations is tied to coal somehow. Beau's grandmother, although in no way related to any of the persons affected by the recent tragedy was devastated by the events because her husband, seventy years ago, was a miner. Her father was a miner and she proudly has the hard hat and headlamp he used. These deaths brought back the fears and worry that she had daily; her heart was broken for these women and children whose worst fears came true.

It took about two hours from the announcement of the mine explosion before I witnessed the two churches visible from my front porch to start gathering in order to organize their collecting of food and money for the people affected; two hours and we live 90 minutes away! People are running to their churches and other nonprofit organizations to donate what they can for these people because everyone in some way, is tied to the coal industry here.

I am continually amazed at how many people are tied to the coal industry and despite how dangerous the working conditions and the job's history of violence, these people are proud of their job and the people they work with. I'm not even a native here, but my blood boils when people in DC and the entertainment industry try to step in to our state and tell us how we're doing things wrong.

People are quick to make fun of and criticize West Virgina, but the reality is that 8 out of 1o Americans don't use their minds enough to realize that West Virginia is a state, not just western Virginia.

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