BROOKWOOD, Ala. (WIAT)- The names read like a haunting roll call. Thirteen of them. Twelve years later, they’re not just remembered as former workers of Jim Walter Resources Mine No.5. The names belong to the miners killed in a tragic explosion. “It’s a big family,” said Larry Spencer, a field representative with United Mine Workers of America. ”We spend more time with them than our own families.”
The tragedy twelve years ago rocked the small Brookwood town, but it’s also strengthened the resolve of miners across the state. “Twelve to save one,” said Mark Hall, referring to the twelve miners that went back down into the mine to rescue one that had fallen. ”That is something that is not seen or done very often.” Because of that bravery, the industry in determined not to let their deaths be in vain. Spencer said the profession has come a long way since the accident, but that they still have a long way to go. “Watching out for each other and following the laws as close as possible, and just being sure that your brothers in a safe place,” he said.
The anniversary celebration has grown since its inception in 2002. Now, the service honors all mining deaths in the state since September 23, 2001.