You don't know me. I sat in the back of the room during your teleconference at JMU in awe of your story and your courage to share it. You made me laugh, you made me cry, you made me mad.
Unlike you, I don't have a personal connection to coal or mountaintop removal mining. I just have a connection to the mountains. They're my safe place, my playground, my home. I didn't even know what was happening until I googled "environmental legal problems" for a school assignment last year. From the search, I found the Earthjustice website. Then I found the Mountain Heroes photo petition.
And as I started to explore the Mountain Heroes website, I kept seeing the same man in the same highlighter yellow t-shirt all over the page. Then, in that same highlighter yellow t-shirt, I saw him again on YouTube. The date was September 15, 2012, just a few days after Larry's passing, and his video about his definition of a "hero" made me sob.
After that video, I wanted to see mountaintop removal mining for my self. I wanted to share in Larry's pain, so I booked a tour with Danny Chiotos. On my way to Kayford Mountain, I climbed a train car to see the coal inside. I even drove down a mine driveway before I had to back up real fast and go the other way. A coal truck was coming.
The day was foggy, so I couldn't be witness to what fueled Larry's fire, but that didn't stop me from listening. Listening to stories about Larry being a firecracker. Longing to have had just one moment with this brilliant man. I kind of understood his legacy as I hiked around the Kayford Mountain property, but you embody that legacy. Bull horn in your hand or not, you are heard.
Nothing will stick with me like your powerful narrative told over that spotty Skype connection.
You said, "Take what I said, be mad, fight for justice--social justice, economic justice. Urge senators and congressmen to sign onto legislation that would help Appalachia."
I remember every time I turn on a light, every time I plug in my iPod, or turn on my computer, it comes at a price to someone in your community. In the words of the wisest Kid President I know, it's time to do something. It's time for me to do something that makes Mother Nature want to dance.
So, I'll keep resisting. Even if it's just with words and an internet connection.
P.S. Elise, you did a great job!!
To my readers, check out Keeper of the Mountains today. Like now.