While riding along Route 3, I passed through the town of Whiteseville, West Virginia. The small town doesn’t stand out much from any of the other small towns nestled in the West Virginia mountains. But it is home to a memorial that is an arresting sight.
“Come to me, all you who labor, and I will give you rest.”
On April 5, 2010, 29 coal miners perished in the Upper Big Branch coal mine explosion. Many times during my ride through West Virginia I repeated the phrase “the mines giveth, the mines taketh away” to myself.
Upper Big Branch Miners Memorial
Whitesville, West Virginia
Just a few miles south of the memorial in Whiteseville, is a roadside memorial near the mine. It bears twenty-nine helmets perched atop crosses and photographs of the men who died there. It was moving.
While the granite memorial is important and will withstand the crush of eternity – seeing these more human elements, fragile and temporary, felt poignant. I could imagine the loved ones who replaced wreaths, came around to tidy up and to generally check on things.
And in a particularly sad twist, the absence of one word, just three little letters, said so much…