BECKLEY, W.Va. -- William Griffith wanted to take his grandson Caleb on the boy's first fishing trip. He never got the chance.
Griffith died on April 5, 2010, along with 28 other coal miners killed in an explosion at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County.
"We took [Caleb fishing] a couple of weeks ago," said William Griffith's widow, Marlene. "It was so sad. It wasn't how it should be."
Marlene Griffith, her son and daughter, and some family friends were among more than 200 people who turned out Tuesday afternoon for one of a series of memorial services to mark the one-year anniversary of the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster.
Family members, friends and others from the community filled Beckley's First Christian Church for a low-key afternoon memorial. They came wearing suits and Red Cross jackets or T-shirts that paid tribute to the men they lost.
Kara Scurlock didn't know any of the miners, but brought her three children anyway, all decked out in the striped shirts her coal miner husband, Brian, wears to work every day. Her husband worked for a time at Upper Big Branch and knew many of the miners who died, she said.
"It's just to show my respect," Scurlock said. "It's just sad. My heart goes out to the families and the friends."
The long, emotional day of remembering began at 10 a.m., when state Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin, acting as governor, placed a wreath on the coal miner statue at the Capitol. A small white sign planted in the flowerbed listed the names of the 29 miners who died.
Two other workers were injured in the blast, the worst U.S. coal-mining disaster since Dec. 30, 1970, when 38 men died in an explosion at Finley Coal Co. in Leslie County, Ky.
Federal and state investigators believe the explosion involved a small ignition of methane gas that was propelled into a much larger blast by a buildup of highly explosive coal dust underground. Massey has denied any wrongdoing, and its chairman, Bobby Inman, told The Wall Street Journal on Monday that he believed the explosion was a "natural disaster."
The explosion and Massey's operations at the mine near Montcoal are the subject of a wide-ranging federal criminal probe. So far, a former Massey miner and the company's Upper Big Branch security director have been charged with crimes not directly related to the cause of the explosion.
On the one-year anniversary of the fatal blast, residents around the state paused for a moment of silence at 3:01 p.m., the estimated time of the explosion.
"It was a national tragedy," said Democratic Rep. Nick J. Rahall, whose district includes the mine. "We must do all that we can to ensure that no other miners and no other miners' families ever, ever have to suffer this way again."
On Tuesday evening, family members, emergency responders, political leaders and invited guests attended a memorial service at Whitesville Elementary School. The event was closed to the general public, but was broadcast over the Internet by a student project at the West Virginia University School of Journalism.
State Police Chaplain Jim Mitchell, who ministered to the families while they waited for word on a doomed rescue effort, read the names of the 29 miners. A silver bell was rung after each name.
"You don't need this service to remember your loved ones," Mitchell told the families. "You remember them and you remember the events of a year ago and every day of your lives."
A row of crosses, one for each miner, lined the front of the stage. Local musicians, some with ties to the fallen miners, played songs including the unofficial state anthem, "Take Me Home, Country Roads."
Doreen Price, who lost her husband Joel in the disaster, said events like Tuesday's memorial help the families.