Portrayal of McDowell inaccurate
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Chris Hedges is yet another Pulitzer Prize winner who loves to use the word "ravaged" ("Despair: After coal departs," Aug. 24).
Hedges is upset that coal miners actually left McDowell County when the coal ran out. What were they supposed to do? Hang around for welfare? And the mean old coal companies ravaged the earth and took all the money from the ravaged miners and skipped town.
That ain't the way it was.
For 100 years those miners removed 15 million tons of coal from McDowell mines every year. The miners and their families used the money to build schools and new lives. I'd guess McDowell County alone gave the state as many as 50 medical doctors, hundreds of lawyers, engineers, aviators, ministers, social workers, a couple of writers, and at least 1,000 school teachers.
All those new citizens demanded their children speak English and embraced the wonderful freedom America gave them. They came from almost every country in the Old World -- Italy, Russia, Hungary, Romania, Poland, along with a couple of German and a few Johnny Bulls from Great Britain. Together they became the most American of all the Americans. Together, they were the great treasure of all.
How American is a Judge Murensky and a Judge Marinari, a mine operator named Signiago and his brother who ran a bank, a mailman named Mallamaci, a football player named Yokosuc, two lawyers named Hassen and businessmen named Lewis and Jones?
The New York Times thinks windmills can generate as much electricity as steam coal and coal is dirty and that makes coal bad. Coal's contributions to America's world-shattering industrial power that multiplied our standard of living 100 fold are forgotten.
I've got $10 bucks that says Hedges never left the Times office and he certainly ravaged the truth.
He did not see the healing green McDowell County hillsides that were once slate dumps. Certainly he knew that Elkhorn Creek, once a black stream of wet coal dust, is now crystal clear and loaded with prize-winning trout. Welch was ravaged, not by coal but two floods. Mayor Martha Moore rebuilt the entire town with money she got from the new penitentiary.
Surely that would give Hedges hives. Miracle worker Martha made a deal with feds to build a new minimum-security prison just outside town. She annexed the area and the federal government now pays Welch large sum of money each year for rent.
In the process she had to take the tops off about three or four ridges to get enough flat land. The whiners and greenies wept about the loss of those "mountaintops." The mayor said she had another 59 "mountaintops" and walked away. She died last year. Around Welch, Martha Moore is considered to be a saint.