GOODY, Ky. — Kim Varney stood beside US 119, cars whizzing past at 50 mph, blowing their horns. She held a sign proclaiming her status as a coal miner’s daughter, flanked by her mother, grandmother and daughter, four generations of supporters for the industry they feel is under attack.
Asked why she was standing with the others beside the highway, Varney’s answer was simple.
“I’m here to show my support for coal miners,” Varney said. “I think its important, I think it will help.”
Her late father worked over 30 years at McCoy Elkhorn, his widow and Kim’s mother, Loretta Varney and Loretta’s mother, Hazel Sturgill, joined over a hundred others who attended the rally.
Standing Together Across Coal County was part of a series of events organized by United for Coal, a grassroots movement of people who feel coal and the people who mine it are being unfairly attacked.
“We support the miner who risks his life to provide for his family a decent living and for his country a brighter future,” their mission statement proclaims. “We believe that an organized assault has been waged against coal and those who mine it, as such we resolve that we will make our voices heard and defend our livelihoods and our way of life as we, the fathers, mothers, sons and daughters of coal stand hand in hand, arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder, with one voice stand.”
Other rallies of this type are planned for parts of Virginia and Kentucky.
Hazel Sturgill has buried two coal miner husbands, one of which died in an explosion at the Thornsbury Brothers Mine. Yet she still supports coal mining.
“I have two sons in coal, one of them is laid off right now,” Hazel said. “Being here lets them know, lets everyone know, that they have our support.”
Her daughter agreed.
“People should know how we feel, we have to speak up,” Loretta said. “You have to stand up for your rights.”
“That’s right,” Hazel said. “I can’t believe it has even come to this.”