FARMINGTON, W.Va. — On Sunday, the United Mine Workers of America honored the 78 men that died in the 1968 Farmington mine disaster. The memorial was broadcast virtually from the mine via YouTube and Facebook.

While the annual event was normally held in person, the union made the decision to hold the memorial virtually due to the pandemic. During the service, UMWA International President Cecil Roberts, International Secretary-Treasurer Brian Sanson, and District 31 VP Rick Altman stepped in front of the camera to give words of remembrance.

While the disaster in Farmington was not the biggest or most deadly in US or even West Virginia history, the union felt compelled to continue to honor those that died in Farmington especially because of how the event impacted mine safety laws moving forward.

“You gotta honor those people because they’re the ones that made the difference in the coal industry. They’re the ones that sacrificed their lives to change the coal industry. If it wasn’t for those men, laws and safety conditions in the coal mines would have never happened,” said Adam Frye, the UMWA District 31 representative.

Frye hoped the memorial could return to in-person in 2022.