MADISON – The West Virginia Coal Festival brought hundreds to the area for fun and festive activities, but a ceremony remembering those lost to coal mining tragedies in the state since the last festival was also part of the festival’s events.
The “Mines Memorial Service” was held on the front steps and lawn of the Boone County Courthouse in Madison and included music, patriotic ceremonies and a remembrance ceremony for the 10 coal miners that have died in West Virginia in the past year.
The Boone Co. Civil Air Patrol Squadron hung the Coal Festival Flag and the Madison VFW Post 5578 posted the colors with the assistance of the Post 5578 Woman’s Auxiliary.
Speakers included Festival President Joy Underwood, Festival Vice President Delores Cook, Festival Publicist Larry Lodato, festival board member Jimbo Clendenen and speaker Dr. Frank “Tex” Frye, pastor of the Madison United Methodist Church.
There was a musical performance by soloist Paul Bowling of the Bigson Freewill Baptist Church.
“We are here today to remember and honor these brave miners and to say that we will never forget them,” Frye said.
Lodato read the name of the deceased, and current and former United Mine Workers miners carried crosses for each miner to the foot of the Coal Miners’ Statue on the front lawn of the courthouse.
They miners honored and remembered included: Johnny Mack Bryant, II, of Lenore, W.Va.; Gregory A. Byers, of Beckley, W.Va.; William “Bill” E. Mock, of Clarksville, Pa.; Stephen O’Dell, of Mount Nebo, W.Va.; Markel Koon, of Shinnston, W.Va.; Brandon Townsend, of Delbarton, W.Va.; Edward L. Finney, of Bluefield, W.Va.; Glenn L. Clutter, of Baxter, W.Va.; John Myles, of Hilltop, W.Va.; and Asa Fitzpatrick, of Kermit, W.Va.
The ceremony concluded with the audience participating in singing “Amazing Grace” and a benediction from Ralph Judd Alford, pastor of the Brush Creek Presbyterian Church at Ridgeview.