Citizens and Officials Pay Respects to Miners, Veterans During Labor Day Parade
By Emily Coppola
September 3, 2019 - Politicians, residents, and guests, visited Pocahontas, Va. on Monday, to pay honor during the 28th annual Coal Miner’s Reunion.
A parade through the historic town kicked off the annual celebration filled with sweets and celebration. Parade participants included Abbs Valley Volunteer Fire Department, Tazewell County Va. Sheriff’s Department, coal miners, railroad workers, Bluefield College football team, and other high spirited others.
“We have this event every year to honor the coal miners and railroad workers,” Historic Pocahontas, Inc. President Melissa Gibson said, “Coal mining started Pocahontas and Bluefield. This is our heritage.”
Coal Miners/Railroad workers and veterans all wave to visitors as they ride in the 28th annual Coal Miners’ Reunion parade in Pocahontas on Monday.
Photo by Jessica Nuzzo
Events at the annual ceremony include speeches on the history of the area as well as presentations to honored guests. Speaking on Pocahontas history, Linda Stump, widow of late Union leader, and Va. delegate, Jackie Stump, spoke on the importance of honoring those who built our society.
About her late husband’s dedication to Virginia’s coal miners, Linda said, “He knew the most important thing that came out of the coal mine was the coal miners.”
Along with working to provide coal miners with health and work rights, Jackie is also known as the first politician to win an election by write-in. According to Dr. Thomas Brewster, Bluefield College’s Dean, Jackie ran, and won, without affiliating with any political parties.
Linda was presented with a plaque in Jackie’s honor, by the Historic Pocahontas, Inc. Other dedications at the event include a town flag dedication which was presented by Va. Delegate James W. Morefield.
“Coal miners and railroad workers formed the backbone,” Mercer County W. Va. County Commissioner, Bill Archer, said, “This is the 125th anniversary of labor day. It’s time to celebrate the working people.”
Linda, coal mining activist, and former Va. Legislative aid firmly believes in laborer’s rights. During her years of activism, she has stood on picket lines and even been sent to jail, where she met her husband Jackie, where almost 400 picketers were arrested.
“Jackie was the UMWA district 28 President and he was also the leader of the strike. Those miners believed in him and from that moment on, so did I,” Linda said.
With continual work and state political service, Jackie continued to work for coal miner’s writes. Through his, and other’s, efforts, the Coal Mine Safety Act was passed in 1999, according to Archer.
The act works, “To protect the safety and health of persons at coal mines and persons who may be affected by coal mining operations,” according to Part 1, Division 3, 6(a) of the act.
“When you hear somebody say this weekend was brought to you by the blood, sweat, and tears, by the labor movement, that’s no exaggeration,” Linda said, “When the federal government was called in to suppress what was turning into a national railroad workers strike over a dozen or more were killed.”