Crandall Canyon memorial dedicated near mine site
The Crandall Canyon Miners Monument was dedicated on Sunday evening with the unveiling of the "Heroes Among Us," sculpture prepared by Karen Templeton.
Templeton's design was chosen last fall from a variety of ideas presented by artists from around the state. The families were most impressed with a display sculpture she had portraying the image of fallen rescuer Dale Black. Based on this early depiction, the sculpture displays the likenesses' of each of the nine miners who perished in Crandall Canyon.
The memorial program opened with Huntington mayor Hilary Gordon welcoming everyone.
"I am feeling a definite uplifted feeling," she told the crowd. "There has been a lot of healing. This memorial will be a beautiful memory to those we have lost."
Gordon said she has felt a warmth, love and camaraderie with so many people since the disaster. Her circle of friends has grown this past year ever wider and larger. She treasures her friendships with the miners families.
"I hope you become a little less sorrowful as the days go by," she said.
Pastor Carl Sitterud, a brother-in-law to Dale Black said the invocation. The boy scouts who completed their Eagle projects at the memorial park performed the flag ceremony.Huntington City Councilmember Julie Jones supervised the Miners Memorial Park project from the ground up.
"Karen Templeton put her heart and soul into the project," said Jones. "She has made a place of solace for the families and the community."
Jones said the work at the park was done with borrowed manpower and borrowed equipment. Many businesses chipped in to help lend employees and equipment so the project could be completed in time.
"With this monument, I want the families to know that we know what they lost," said Templeton."It was an honor to create a memorial to the miners of Crandall Canyon."
Templeton told the gathered group the monument stands six feet tall so the miners can be looked in the eye and in the face.
"The soul resides in the eyes," she said.
The monument portrays the six trapped miners facing the three rescuers and a short narrative of the accident is between the miners and the rescuers. The monument is curved to represent the bond between the miners and the rescuers and a symbol of how everyone came together and supported the rescue effort. The colors of the rocks represent the mountains and canyons surrounding the community. The monument faces the south so the sun will always warm the faces of the miners.
"They were Heroes Among Us," stated Templeton. "On the face of things they were ordinary men, but willing to risk their lives. Brandon Kimber threw himself across another miner and saved his life. Gary Jensen was one of the many who went back into the mine with a fracture of a hope that they could save them. Heroes Among Us is a place we can come and remember."
Elder Ronald Rasband of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints said he had visited the mine one year ago and the communities and had attended several worship services at that time. He said the area is a community of faith and the healing has begun. He sent the love and best wishes of the LDS church. He said the community and the miners families have been in their prayers throughout this past year. Rasband said the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.
"We need to show tender love and kindness to those who have lost loved ones," he stated. " May they find comfort in God, who has promised he will share our sorrows."
Catholic Bishop John Wester said all miners are heroes as they go into the mines every day to make our lives better. He said Jesus said no greater love hath this man than to lay down his life for a friend.
"The miners live on forever in God's kingdom where we hope to join them someday," he said. "May they rest in peace."
Some of the family members of the lost miners also made remarks to the crowd as well.
"This has been a rough and painful year," said Kristen Kimber Cox, ex-wife of Brandon Kimber. " I have had many tears and sleepless nights. I would give anything for just one more day, but one more day wouldn't be enough. This is a peaceful place. There have been many cards from strangers and letters from elementary students. Our pain brought the country and even the world together. You have been a lighthouse to me, you have put a smile on my face when I didn't think I had one in me. These men will not be forgotten; we have precious memories. They haven't left us, we just can't see them any more.".
Wendy Black, wife of Dale Black said the project would not have been possible without the help of so many.
"Mining is an honorable job and these men died trying to bring light to the world," she said. "On Aug. 6, six miners died, on Aug. 16 three rescuers died. I want to honor those who lived. You are all truly heroes to risk your lives for others. You must go out and live life to the fullest."
Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman was also on hand for the ceremony.
"Thank you ,Karen Templeton," he said. "You did something that few could do in providing the likenesses of the miners which will provide healing for the families. We will all have a tombstone with a word or two on it. Some people go quickly in a tragedy, some go from illness, some surrounded by family. Some go in the international spotlight which was the case one year ago."
Then he turned his words toward all of eastern Utah.
"You have shown your country and the whole world what it means to pull together as a community. You have learned what it means to love a little more, hug your kids a little tighter. We need to live lives that reflect the goodness of the nine lives that were lost. If you are having a hard day, then come here to this place. This place will forever be an oasis of remembrance. You can see and touch and recall the images of those people we have loved so dearly. We have loved together, we have cried together; we share a common bond. We have a responsibility to these nine human beings. It's been a tough year. It's time to get beyond the pain and anguish and to celebrate the lives of these good men. It needs to reside in our hearts and our minds of how we can be better people."
Larry Sweeten gave the closing prayer including the scripture references where Christ encouraged his followers to comfort one another and the promise that He would comfort those in need.
The Eagle scouts who had worked on the project and the families removed the covering of the monument to reveal the bronze likenesses of the nine miners; Luis Hernandez, Don Erickson, Kerry Allred, Carlos Payan, Manny Sanchez, Brandon Phillips, Brandon Kimber, Gary Jensen and Dale Black.
Then family and friends gathered around to view the sculpture and remember the lives of the men lost in Crandall Canyon.