Saturday, June 20, 2015

#HappyFathersDay and a mining disaster

At 10:28 a.m. on Friday, December 6, 1907, an explosion occurred in the No. 6 and No. 8 mines of Fairmont Coal Company in Monongah, West Virginia.

There were officially 367 men who had entered the two mines that morning. Only 5 survived the explosion. Two hundred and fifty of them were fathers. It has been described as the worst mining disaster in American history.

Less than six miles away in Fairmont, Grace Golden Clayton had been mourning the loss of her father. Perhaps inspired by the recent effort of Anna Jarvis to establish Mother's Day in nearby Grafton, Grace went to the pastor of her church and asked him to consider holding a service honoring all of the fathers lost in the mining disaster.

On July 5, 1908, in Fairmont, West Virginia the congregation of Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South (now known as Central United Methodist Church) gathered to hear their pastor, Robert Thomas Webb honor the fathers who had fallen in the mining explosion.

It is now seen by many as the first celebration of Father's Day though it would be years later before it was recognized as a national day.

They say in every adversity there is a seed of equivalent opportunity. And, from the disaster and loss that occurred that winter morning in West Virginia over one hundred years ago was planted a seed of honoring the fathers each and every year.

Happy Father's Day to all the dads, yet let's not forget those who mourn the loss of their fathers.

Celebrate with family and enjoy the day to the full.

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