These people make up the board of directors at Alpha Natural Resources. There images are linked from their bios. Click them to find out more about each individual. I look a them and I wonder to myself, what has their lives been like? Have they worked in the coal mines? Have they put up roof bolts, hung miner cables, or dragged ventilation curtains through the mud? Have they lived near one of their coal mines and listened to the mine fan night after night, or had to deal with coal trucks hauling by their homes with all of the dust and mud? Did they watch as a loved one fought to pull a breath into blackened lungs, or watched them suffer in pain from an injured back?
I look at these people and I wonder if they care about the lives of those who mine their coal. Would they show up at the funeral of a miner who is killed in their mines? Would they give the family money out of their own pockets to help them with their loss? Would their wives cook something and take it to the family, offering to stay and comfort them through their first days alone?
I think about the best people I know and love from back home. None of them would start a business to make lots of money knowing their employees were giving up their health, risking injuries that would put them in pain for the rest of their lives. The people I know find happiness fishing on the lakes with their kids, or hiking in the woods during spring searching for morel mushroom, or digging ginseng in the fall. The people I know are good people and do what they can to help each other out. A person’s word is still important, and how well they help others is what they want to be judged for, not the cost of their clothes, the price of their vehicles, or the size of their houses.
I remember the faces of my friends, covered in black coal dust–their bodies wearing out. I remember their smiles as they talked about their families. I remember talking about our kids and our gardens, about all the things we had piling up to do at home. I remember the many mornings when we all struggled to make it and the afternoons when only the thoughts of home were enough to keep us going. I wonder if the people pictured above know their miners like I did, if they care about their families and would put money in the bit buckets passed around when someone was in need.
I wonder if they knew David Brummite–if they knew how hard he worked for them and how much he loved his family. I wonder if some of the first things that crossed their minds was “Whose fault was it?” or “Has media relations done a good job at protecting the image of our company?” I wonder if they even knew when it happened, or if it just came across in some casual conversation about business and stock prices.
I wonder if the people know who they are fighting for when they fight for coal…