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article imagePresident Obama delivers eulogy at miners' memorial service

By Kay Mathews     Apr 25, 2010 in Politics
Twenty-nine miners died after a methane gas explosion on April 5 at a West Virginia coal mine. Pres. Obama, Vice Pres. Biden and Gov. Manchin spoke at the memorial service.
The explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, West Virginia on April 5 resulted in the deaths of 29 miners. Today, the miners were remembered and honored at a memorial service held in Beckley, West Virginia.
In the intensely emotional four-hour ceremony, family members of the miners entered the convention center “with helmets that they lovingly placed on 29 white crosses that stood on the stage,” according to The Washington Post.
CBS News reports that President Obama delivered a eulogy in which he said to the gathered family and friends of the miners, “We have been mourning with you…our hearts ache alongside you.”
Pres. Obama continued by saying “We are here to memorialize 29 Americans” and proceeded to read the names of each miner killed. The full text of the President’s eulogy can be found here.
Obama emphasized the strength of the Beckley community saying:
I've seen it myself, the strength of that community. In the days following the disaster, e-mails and letters poured into the White House. Postmarked from different places, they often begin the same way: 'I am proud to be from a family of miners,' 'I am the son of a coal miner,' 'I am proud to be a coal miner's daughter.'
Vice President Biden, who spoke before Pres. Obama, said in part that "the time would come to account for the safety conditions that led to the disaster." Further, Biden said:
As a community, and as a nation, we would compound tragedy if we let life go on unchanged. Certainly, no one should have to sacrifice their life for their livelihood. The men we remember here today went into the darkness so we could have light. It was dangerous work and they knew it. But they never flinched.
West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin also spoke at the Memorial Service and said, in part, "It takes brave men to work below the surface. I pledge to you: Your loved ones will not have died in vain."
On April 15, Obama ordered a sweeping federal review of coal mine safety. At the announcement of the this review, held in the Rose Garden, Obama said, “"Owners responsible for conditions in the Upper Big Branch mine should be held accountable for decisions they made and preventive measures they failed to take."
Digital Journalists covered the tragedy in past articles including those by Hartman, Forsloff, Moran and Herrmann.
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