Brookwood coal mining anniversary - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Brookwood coal mining anniversary

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September 23rd marks the 11th anniversary of the mine explosion in Brookwood, Alabama. 13 miners were killed after a roof collapse caused two explosions at the Jim Walter number five mine.

"We gather each year to remember. First a moment of silence at 5:20 when the first explosion at the Jim Walter number five mine happened 11 years ago. Then came the bells. Larry Spencer, with the United Mine Workers of America says, "When somebody gets hurt or injured or a fatality, it rips all of us."

Each ring, Honored one of the 13 fallen miners. There were prayers, songs and sorrow.  Monroe Cullen Williams, a miner for 21 years, knew several of the victims.  "Ever since that tragedy took place, people are hurting, families are hurting, we want them to know we don't forget."

A candle ceremony, illuminated that message. "That's our family." Not only representing those killed in 2001, but all miners in district 20 killed in coal mines over the years.

Prayers also went out to the families of two miners killed this year. Julius Walker and Harold Ennis both died in separate accidents in the Shoal Creek Mine. The Ennis family held tight to one another as this tight community surrounded them, adding a special touch to the Miners' Memorial Monument.

Thomas Wilson says "Evergreens are always green and always living, so we can capture the symbolism to close our service." Keeping memories alive, while moving forward.

Thomas Wilson with the United Mine Workers of America says mine accidents have continued to decrease, but one accident is one too many. Larry Spencer says there have been some law changes, which has improved safety.

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