Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Nobility of heart and mind

There is an essential decency, and a huge capacity for love, that operates in the heart and mind of men who, in their dying moments, seek to reassure the living:

This letter released by the Toler family on Thursday Jan. 5, 2006 in Flatwoods, W. Va was written by Martin Toler Jr., who died with 11 other miners in the Sago mine. The note was given to Martin's brother, Tom Toler, by the coroner. It reads 'Tell all I see them on the other side JR I love you It wasn't bad just went to sleep'
While this note is the only one made public, it's not the only one that the men wrote:
Mine authorities have said that several notes were found with the victims but only one had so far been made public. The man who wrote it, Martin Toler, 51, had worked as a coal miner for 32 or 33 years, since he was a teenager, his nephew said. Asked why young Tallmansville boys go off to work in the mines despite the constant dangers, Randy Toler said: "When you grow up with it and you start at such a young age, when you feel you're invincible, it's an adventure-type thing. You're too young and dumb to worry about a lot of danger ... "The danger is there, but the nation needs coal. We need energy as well as we need defense. Soldiers put their lives on the line every day and coal miners are the same way," he said. Randy Toler said he believed other notes found with the miners' bodies were likely written with his uncle's ink pen. "Coal miners typically don't carry ink pens, just the section boss does. .. and I'm sure he would have directed them to do that. I'm sure he probably told them that it didn't look good and they needed to make peace with their maker." Toler said his uncle had a pleasant, joyous disposition. "He was a very jolly, happy person who never displayed any depression or any down moments," Toler said. "He always kept his chin up, always laughing and good-naturedly teasing you."
UPDATE: Ron Franscell did a beautiful post, not only about what the Sago miners wrote, but about what miners in past tragic accidents have written as they lay in their dark holes. It's incredibly moving. He also invites readers to imagine what they would write if they got the chance.