By Kaylyn Christopher
Times West Virginian
Although 44 years have passed since the tragedy, the Consolidation Coal mine explosion of 1968 has not been forgotten.
Seventy-eight West Virginia miners lost their lives in the explosion, and today a memorial service sponsored by the United Mine Workers of America District 31 Organizing Committee will honor the sacrifice those individuals made.
“We can never forget the 78 men that perished in the No. 9 mine explosion of ’68,” Mike Caputo, UMW District 31 vice president, said. “If we allow ourselves to forget about the past, it’s possible that we could go back there.”
The 44-year anniversary service will take place at 1 p.m. today at the Farmington No. 9 memorial site on Flat Run Road in Mannington. According to District 31 field representative Joe Reynolds, the highlight of the service will be the placing of the wreaths in honor of the men who died in the disaster. UMW International President Cecil E. Roberts will be the keynote speaker.
Although the tragedy caused many to experience pain and grief, Caputo said eyes were opened to the dangers miners faced.
“No. 9 was an explosion that not only rocked our county,” he said. “It rocked the world.”
Media attention brought the issue to light and action was taken to ensure the safety of mine workers across the country.
“It was probably the first major mine disaster that came into people’s living rooms through the TV and the media,” Reynolds said.