Alabama mining community gathers to remember those killed in explosion 22 years ago
22 years ago to the day, an explosion at No. 5 Jim Walters mine tragically killed 13 miners. Each year on this day, The Brookwood community gathers to make sure their names, along with so many others across Alabama who have also been killed are never forgotten.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Several individuals across the state gathered in Tuscaloosa County Saturday night for an evening of remembrance on the anniversary of a mining explosion that took the lives of more than a dozen people.
22 years ago to the day (Saturday), an explosion at No. 5 Jim Walters mine tragically killed 13 miners. Each year on this day, The Brookwood community gathers to make sure their names, along with so many others across Alabama who have also been killed, are never forgotten.
“No matter what color you are, we’re all a family at the end of the day,” says Mike Wright, a local miner. “When you go down and work and come back out we all look the same cause its dirty.”
“It was tragic for the community because all of the people here were close knit, most of them either knew or had family members that worked at these mines,” says Larry Spencer, the president of the Alabama Miners’ Association Foundation, which helped organize the event.
The ceremony not only honoring those lost in September of 2001, but all of Alabama’s miners whose lives were taken too soon.
“The young man that just lost his life at No. 4 mine, Mr. Haley, his name will be added to the list today,” Spencer said.
“We’ve done this for 22 years, I’ve been a coal miner for 16 years, and I just wanted to come out and support the families,” Wright said.
Those at the event offering support for one another, lighting candles, and reading each person’s name aloud so that they’re never forgotten.
“We just want to show the ones that have lost the loved ones that we’re here,” Wright says. “We’re still supporting them and we still want to just bring awareness to how dangerous this job is and these guys need to be honored. Coal miners need to be honored because it’s a dangerous job.”
The Alabama Miners’ Memorial Foundation helped organize Saturday’s event, operating entirely off of donations. If you’d like to learn more about how to donate, you’re asked to call their office at 205-477-7500.
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