For many of us this is a holiday from school or work. I recollect my childhood days in southern WV, when my daddy was a coal miner. That’s not only hard work, but very scary dangerous work. I remember Daddy working the second shift, which meant he didn’t arrive home until after midnight. His skin was so blackened by the coal dirt. After he showered himself clean, he still wore evidence of his work. As a kid, I always thought my daddy looked a bit mysterious with a ring of coal dirt lining his already dark set eyes. Funny, today there are people who elect to have permanent cosmetics applied through surgical procedures to get this look. I wonder if the coal miners were their inspiration. A tiny reflection of a fond memory I have of my brother is, how we would confiscate any treats Daddy left in his mining pale on purpose for us–a few white powdered donuts or a snowball cake which we gladly shared. We loved this! What simply times.
However, a coal miner’s life can have serious health consequences. My daddy had to retire from the coal mines in the mid 70s because after a Black Lung disease diagnoses. There are many men just like my daddy who suffer with this disease. I know how it feels on the rare occasion my allergies restrict my lungs functioning. It’s difficult and frightening. To realize this is an ongoing presence in the life of a coal miner afflicted with this disease makes me cringe. It took my daddy several years to battle things out in court against the coal mining industry, but he eventually received Black Lung compensation.
Aside from health concerns, sadly there are a number of coal miners who have lost their lives while on the job. The sorrow that ripples through the families and communities swell nation-wide. We all feel their heartaches. I’m very much thankful to have my daddy, my father-in-law, all of my uncles, and my grandpa still today despite the many risks they faced each day in the hollow darkness of a coal mine.
I’m so grateful my husband nor I have to worry with catastrophes be falling him at the office, like a coal miner, factory worker, steel mill operator, policemen, emergency personnel, highway road worker, and the list goes on. But, I’m very thankful for men and women who do these sorts of things as a living, as they are essential to our nation.
As you’re enjoying your day off – relaxing day by the pool, on the lake, at your computer screen, or in front of the TV, then please join me in taking a moment to reminisce those who ultimately made this day a holiday for us and kindly say a prayer for those, regardless of the work, who by the sweat of their brow continue to shape this country into this great land that we love.
God bless the American worker!
Links of interest: