Logan -- TBA
Pikeville --  TBA
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Beckley --  TBA
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Huntington -- TBA

Pittsburgh Post Gazette - Op/Ed - April 17, 2010

One week ago this evening I returned from six physically and emotionally grueling days covering the Upper Big Branch mine disaster in Montcoal, W.Va. Since then, I keep thinking of the 29 brave souls whose time on Earth ended deep beneath it. I pray they didn't suffer. I think of the family and friends left to mourn them. I pray their suffering is somehow salved. I think of the kindness bestowed upon me and other journalists as the tragedy unfolded around us. I pray karma rewards them.

In my career, I've covered unexplainable acts of God and unfathomable acts of man -- plane crashes, serial killings, tornadoes, police killings, suicides, the slayings of men, women and children. I have tried to shine light on the human condition.

It would be embarrassing if it were not so humbling.

Hours after the West Virginia mine explosion Monday, scores of journalists from all over the country started arriving - in a very rural area with no communications or places to sleep closer than an hour's drive away.

When the governor began giving press briefings at Marsh Fork Elementary School (this week happens to be spring break, so the children are out), journalists began getting comfortable at the site a few miles from the mine entrance, and we never left. By Tuesday, a couple dozen satellite trucks filled the parking lot, and classrooms with tiny chairs and paintings on the walls were turned into newsrooms and bedrooms.

WE go to desperate lengths to get the energy we use, and we have been doing it for a very long time now.

But the developed world has had heat, light, air conditioning, washers, dryers, vacuum cleaners, cars, trucks and computers for so many decades now that a dangerous disconnect has developed.

Most Americans don't have any idea where their comforts and conveniences come from, and never give it a thought.

A pair of tall black boots and a lunch pail sat near the altar Sunday at the New Life Assembly church - a memorial to the 29 men killed in the worst U.S. mining disaster since 1970 and a thank-you to those who make their living inside the mountains.

This day, the first Sunday since last Monday's explosion killed 28 workers and a contractor at Massey Energy Co.'s Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, was for many a time to honor the profession. Tears of mourning fell, and arms swayed in worship among the 50 people gathered at the church.

Pastor Gary Williams, who has worked at Massey Energy mines for 18 years, knew many of the victims. On his way to church Sunday morning, he heard Ricky Workman's name among them for the first time.

"I know his child. I know his wife. He's a part of my family. He's a part of my life," Williams said, tears falling. "Over time, our hearts and the emptiness that we have inside will fade away, but I don't never want to forget what happened April 5, 2010."