"Blair Mountain is not a West Virginia issue," Rasmussen said. "It is an American issue. Every person who makes decent wages and has a 40-hour work week, health benefits and a pension owes something to those miners."
"Blair Mountain is one of the state's most historically important places," along with sites like Harpers Ferry, where abolitionist John Brown led an anti-slavery raid in 1859, she said.
"When you wipe out the physical evidence of the past, the past will be forgotten," Rasmussen said.
In March 2009, the National Park Service added Blair Mountain Battlefield to its National Register of Historic Places.
Nine months later - after pressure from coal companies on state agencies - Carol D. Shull, keeper of the National Register, removed Blair Mountain from the register.
Now, the United Mine Workers, Sierra Club, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Friends of Blair Mountain and West Virginia Labor History Association all back a pending lawsuit seeking to restore Blair Mountain to the National Register.
Tonight, the Culture Center at the state Capitol will host "Music Saves Mountains," a concert in memory of the late bluegrass singer Hazel Dickens, to kick off this week's march.
Beginning at 7 p.m., the concert will feature Grammy Award winner Tim O'Brien and various West Virginia artists. All proceeds will go to fund the Blair Mountain March.
Dickens died in April, shortly before she would have turned 76. She had planned to host tonight's event.
The daily schedule of the march is:
Saturday's rally will feature environmental lawyer and activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., as well as singers Emmylou Harris and Kathy Mattea. A number of coalfield residents with direct ties to the 1921 marchers will also share their memories.
More information is available at: marchonblairmountain.org and appalachiarising.org.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.