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Miners Remembered On Upper Big Branch Anniversary

Reported: Apr. 5, 2014 6:42 PM EDT
Updated: Apr. 5, 2014 6:47 PM EDT
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WHITESVILLE, W.Va. (Katy Brown) -- Saturday marks four years since one of the worst mining disasters in U.Ss history.

The Upper Big Branch mine explosion made an impression on the entire nation and our state and certainly the mining community as well.

"You never know day-to-day what's going to happen to you," Denny Lester, a retired miner, said.

And that's a statement never more true than for April 5, 2010, which was the day of the explosion.

Twenty-nine miners lost their lives that day, and on the fourth anniversary, many people visited the UBB memorial in Whitesville to pay their respects to the fathers, brothers, sons who made up a family of miners and who died.

"This monument is so important to us because our men in this area have spent their lives working for coal companies," said Judy Lester, the wife of Denny,

The Lesters paid their respects on Saturday, first stopping at a memorial down the road where helmets bearing the name of each man are displayed - much like in Whitesville where a group of silhouettes represents the 29 names listed on the back of the memorial.

For Denny Lester, at each memorial, one of those names hits close to home.

"Grover Skeens, I had worked with him at another mine 15, 20 years ago," Denny said. "[It] could have been any of us at that time."

Four years later, the mining family and community still grieves. Judy said she especially had "gratitude for the service that their loved ones gave during their careers in mining."

Wreaths were placed at the memorial and were there until dusk.

No formal service was scheduled, so the families and friends of the fallen could visit the memorial at their own convenience.



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