It seems few people realize it or even know about it but this Friday is National Miner's Day.
The effort to create a commemorative National Miner's Day ended when a resolution was passed in the United States Senate on Dec. 3, 2009 proclaiming Dec. 6 of each year as National Miner's Day.
While many in modern society take for granted their daily lives, almost all of what they use or consume is either grown or mined from the ground. The mining industry has played a significant role in the growth of America, with much of the westward expansion of the country coming because of mining.
And a great deal of that progress was paid for in blood and lives.
But while most of the mining operations in the United States today are fairly safe endeavors because of safety laws enacted after unions fought for such regulations for years, it hasn't always been that way.
The worst mining disaster in American History occurred in the community of Monongah, W. Va., on Dec. 6, 1907. On that dreadful day, 362 men and boys lost their lives. Some say the number is actually closer to 500. That happened at a coal mine site.
In Utah the worst disaster also came as the result of coal mining. On May 1, 1900, more than 200 coal miners died in the Winter Quarters mine near Scofield. The second worst happened on March 8, 1924, when three explosions rocked Castle Gate. That morning 172 died and one was also killed in the rescue effort.
To those that live in Castle Country, miners are heroes. They go places that most people wouldn't want to go, to mine minerals and energy from the ground. These efforts provide the goods and services that everyone has become used to.
Whether they be hard rock miners or coal miners Americans owe them a debt of gratitude.
What follows is a letter from Joseph A. Main, the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health. He sent us a letter about it.
"On Friday we celebrate the fourth annual National Miner's Day. In 2009, Congress proclaimed that each December 6 would be recognized in remembrance of the 1907 Monongah coal mine disaster, which resulted in the deaths of 362 miners and became the worst industrial accident in American history. The Proclamation designates this date 'in appreciation, honor and remembrance of the accomplishments and sacrifices of the miners of our Nation; and encourages the people of the United States to participated in local and national activities celebrating and honoring the contributions of miners.'"
"American miners play a much larger role in our lives than most people realize. They extract a variety of raw materials, such as coal, copper, phosphate, silver, limestone, iron and zinc - ores that are essential components in the products we use every day."
"Coal, and the electricity generated by coal power, play prominent roles in our homes, businesses and communities. Miners produce the gravel, crushed stone, tar, asphalt, road salt and cement used to build the roads we travel on and to make them safer. The bridges we build to span canyons and rivers are built with rock and mineral products produced by miners."
"Gold, silver and copper wiring, ceramic insulators, and silicon processing and memory chips are essential components in electronics that we use daily, such as smartphones, computers and televisions."
"Thousands of everyday consumer goods are made with the fundamental materials secured from the hard work of miners. They range from cosmetics to toothpaste, from cookware and dinnerware to appliances."
"American miners work every day to provide the necessities of life. They deserve protection on the job from workplace hazards that have killed tens of thousands and injured hundreds of thousands of miners throughout our history".
"We are making progress. In 1907, the same year as the Monongah disaster, 3,000 miners died in tragic accidents. Fatalities numbering in the thousand were not uncommon during the first part of the 20th century. These numbers decreased to about 140 in the 1970s due in large part to the passage of the Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 and the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977. The 1977 Act created the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) in the Department of Labor to oversee the safety and health of miners. Thirty-five years later, we have seen the lowest fatality rate in this nation's history. And, through the "End Black Lung - Act Now" initiative and other occupational health efforts, we are making progress in limiting miners' exposure to respirable dust and other harmful contaminants. While more needs to be done to prevent death, injury and illness in the nation's mines, our efforts and collaboration with labor and industry stakeholders are showing positive results."
"We will continue to work hard to send miners home safe and healthy at the end of every shift. On this National Miners Day, we honor their contributions and thank them for the sacrifices they have made on behalf of this nation. We hope the American people will join us in commemorating this day of recognition."