THOSE WHO ROUTINELY FACE DANGER in their workplaces share a special bond. This bond is not easily understood by those who haven’t shared that experience. Despite the increase in pit mining and the decrease in underground mining, extracting coal remains a dangerous occupation. It is currently one of the 25 most dangerous jobs in America.
This week, the Clinch Valley Times pays tribute to those who risked or forfeited their lives (or breath) to mine the coal that built America. Bituminous coal made it possible to produce the steel and armaments that enabled our country win WWII. It was that same coal that fueled the greatest era of prosperity in our history.
The following funeral service (highlighted in purple) is transcribed from the Dec. 14, 1973 Constitution of the International Union United Mine Workers of America. It is a beautiful and fitting memorial tribute of respect. The newspaper clippings were added for emphasis.
UMWA BURIAL SERVICE
The following burial service is adopted to be used at funerals of deceased members of the United Mine Workers of America.
Fellow Workers: We are assembled here today to pay a last sad tribute of love to our departed friend and brother. This solemn occasion speaks forcibly of our mortality. We can say with the Psalmist: “What is man that Thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that is born of woman is full of trouble and sorrows. He cometh forth like a flower and is cut down. Our years of labor are brought to an end. Our dust shall return to the dust as it was, and our spirit to the God who gave it.”
Again, fellow workers, we are reminded that we, too, are but mortal and will soon break the tenement of clay and depart for the hereafter, and it behooves each one of us to follow a line of conduct that will bright about a closer friendship, that that is true to God and man.
All our beautiful surrounds tell us of God’s greatness and goodness, of the universe of which we are children of His creation.
But why should we be sad and mournful, when God can give us consolation while living here on eart, for His promise is that we shall meet again in the realms above, for the Word of God teaches us that we shall again meet after death.
And now, our fellow worker, we pay the last sad rite and tribute of respect, the last one we can pay you in this work, placing on your grave these evergreens as a token of respect, that thy memory shall be with us always, though thou hast paid the debt and has gone to the realms above.
And now to the family and friends of this, our deceased brother, we tender our heartfelt sympathy in this. their sad hour of affliction, and bid them look to God for His tender mercies, for He alone can give them consolation.
And now, fellow worker, we bid thee a tender and loving farewell.
Let us pray: And now may grace, mercy and peace from God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit rest and abide with you now and forevermore.