MADISON – The West Virginia Coal Festival brought hundreds to the area for fun and festive activities, but a ceremony remembering those lost to coal mining tragedies in the state since the last festival was also part of the festival’s events.
The “2015 WV Coal Festival Miners Memorial Service” was held on the front steps and lawn of the Boone County Courthouse in Madison and included music, patriotic ceremonies and a remembrance ceremony for the three coal miners that have died in West Virginia in the past year, as well as all miners lost worldwide.
The Woman’s Auxillary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 5578 hung the Coal Festival Flag and the Madison VFW Post 5578 posted the colors.
Speakers included Festival President Joy Underwood, Festival Vice President Delores Cook, festival board member Jimbo Clendenen and speaker Joe Carter, United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International vice president District 17.
There was a musical performance by soloist Tim Spratt of Van.
“We are here today to remember and honor these brave miners and to say that we will never forget them,” Carter said.
“This ceremony is in memory of West Virginia greatest heroes, our coal miners,” Cook said. “We honor and salute them so they will never be forgotten.”
Cook read the name of the deceased, and current and former UMWA miners carried crosses for each miner to the foot of the Coal Miners’ Statue on the front lawn of the courthouse.
They miners honored and remembered included: Raymond Scott Savage, 49, with Red Bone Mining Company in Monongalia County who was fatally injured on Nov. 10, 2014 after being struck by rock while operating a roof bolting machine; John M. Garloch, 45, with McElroy Coal Company in Marshall County who was fatally injured on March 8, 2015, after being struck by a fall of face and rib while shoveling between the longwall face and panline; and Von Edwards Bower, 52, with Rogers Petroleum Service, Inc., Republic Energy Mine in Kanawha County, who was fatally injured on March 17, 2015, when as a fuel truck driver his truck overtunred on a surface mine haul road.
Also remembered and honored were well known Madison community and civic leaders Renee Hager and R.B. Foster. Both were supporters of the coal industry and the West Virginia Coal Festival.
The ceremony concluded with the audience participating in singing “Amazing Grace” and a benediction from Rev. Ruth Ann Delong with the Church of Nazarene in Madison.