Being an old
understand the connection between coal and the people. Coal has been a major part of life for the
people of Kentucky Appalachia and for the economy of
the state. Those not familiar should
understand that a young man can graduate (or drop out) from high school and
step into a fifty-thousand dollar a year job in the mines. Miners understand that companies like Peabody
Cole provide their standard of living and without the mines they (the miners)
are not trained or qualified for comparable salaried jobs – jobs that do not
even exist in the rural areas where they live.
Appalachian miners are proud people and their roots run deep in the mountain culture. Most miners have followed the tradition of their fathers, grand-fathers and great grand-fathers in the mines; and as distasteful and dangerous as coal mining may be, to the people of Appalachian West Virginia, Kentucky and North Carolina it is their culture and they are willing to overlook ecological dangers and safety shortcomings – and by protecting the mines they are protecting their culture and way of life.
Some of these rural communities can appear rough to outsiders and the law often turns a blind eye to minor law-breaking; but when you are speaking of a coal mining community you’ve got to ask yourself ‘Who's the outlaw?’