Friends of America Festival brings 100,000 to mountaintop mine site
Organizers call on mining families to oppose Obama’s assault on coal and America’s economy

HOLDEN – They came early and stayed late. They came despite the threat of heavy rain, thunder and lightning. They came because they support the coal industry. They came because they are patriots and care deeply about the future of their country. They came from as far away as Alaska and Europe to let their voices be heard by an American president and a radical Congress trying rob them of their heritage, their jobs and their way of life.

Almost 100,000 people – mostly working coal miners and their families – turned out Monday for the Labor Day “Friends of America” rally at the old Holden 22 mountaintop mine site near Logan, W.Va. The event featured legendary guitarist Ted “the Motor City Madman” Nugent as emcee and Hank Williams, Jr., John Rich (formerly of Big and Rich), Halfway to Hazzard, Taylor Made and the Blackwater Outlaws as musical guests. Also on hand were Fox News commentator and talk radio host Sean Hannity and Lord Christopher Monckton, a  science advisor to Margaret Thatcher, a former British prime minister.  Monckton is an outspoken critic of global warming theorists.

The crowd started arriving before 6 a.m.  They were confronted with the threat of rain most of the day, but that didn’t take away from the event. Several large tents, capable of accommodating most of the crowd were set up to provide shelter if needed.

The event got started at around 8:30 am with the Blackwater Outlaws opening the festival. Nugent came on at around 11 am and was followed first by Halfway to Hazzard and then by crowd favorite Hank Williams, Jr.  Rich and Taylor Made capped off the evening with the concert coming to a close at about 8 p.m.

Between musical sets, the crowd heard from Hannity, Monckton, event sponsors Don Blankenship (Massey Energy), Ben Hatfield (International Coal Group) and Nugent.

Nugent was perhaps the most eloquent. He condemned the Obama Administration for its assault on the American way of life.

Nugent said an event like the Friends of America festival is a great beginning, but it won’t mean anything if the people present don’t take action, letting every politician and public official, from Obama all the way down to the mayor of their town or their county commissioner, know they oppose the administration’s assault on capitalism and freedom.

Nugent was not alone in his call for action.

"Now more than ever, is the time for working people and businesses to join together and speak up about the economic damage caused by an overreaching government. For our communities to grow and prosper, our people need freedom," said Art Kirkendoll, president of the Logan County Commission said prior to the event. "The Friends of America rally is about standing up for our freedoms, our families and the American way of life."

Blankenship and Hatfield also spoke about the need to take action.

"America's working families are under attack from several fronts. America's job providers and American workers must rally together and let our voices be heard," said Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy and lead organizer of the Friends of America Rally. "We are proud to provide Central Appalachia with good-paying jobs that cannot be outsourced, and we will continue to fight to make sure they aren't taxed or regulated out of existence."

"We are glad to support the Friends of America rally. It's a perfect opportunity to honor the contribution hard working Americans make to our economy, our communities and our country, and to let those people have a voice in the public debate that affects them so deeply," said Ben Hatfield, CEO of International Coal Group. "We are proud to stand with the men and women that fuel American industry, create American jobs and grow the American economy."
Hatfield and Blankenship were giving voice to the concerns of many in the audience.

West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney also attended the event. Raney said the said the event “shows clearly the anger and determination that is building across the country.”

“This event was a great gathering of the real America. These people are the best coal miners in the world.  We want to show we support them and  the work do. They are concerned and even scared for their future with the public policies in Washington being driven by selfish personal agendas.”

"Our responsibility to the people of Southern West Virginia is to protect jobs not only here in West Virginia but America as well, being the son and grandson of West Virginia coal miners, we must keep these jobs from being regulated out of existence by policies that would harm working families," added John Hubbard, president of the Mingo County Commission.

"Keeping jobs in America has to be the top priority for our leaders in Washington. American job providers and workers need to join together to ensure we can continue to provide for our families. This rally is being held to let Washington know that we support policies that support American jobs," said Ruth Lemmon, President of the WV Automobile & Truck Dealers Association, one of the many state organizations supporting the event.