This is my grandfather, Van Wesley Carper whom I loved dearly. He died on this day 45 years ago when I was six years old and I still miss him. Now that I am north of fifty I realize how young he really was, only in his sixties. His life was shortened for the same reason many of his peers also died young. He was a coal-miner in southern West Virginia and died of black-lung, a disease caused by breathing coal dust.
America needed coal which provided the main source of energy for industry and transportation from the 18th century through the 1950s. The only way to get it was for men like my grandfather to go into the mines every day and dig it out. Mining was dangerous, back breaking, physically draining labor. The hours were long and the pay was atrocious. However, this was the work that was available and he had a family to provide for.
Today’s post is just to honor the many people who do “the job,” no matter what it is. Whether they are firefighters, police officers, members of the military, or even coal miners, the people who choose daily to face danger and hardship because there is a job to do and a family to feed, deserve our respect. Thank you.