Coal miners have the daunting task to keep themselves safe and sound every day at work. One coal miner in Southern West Virginia decided to sound out the everyday fears.
24-year-old Joshua Stowers was born and raised in West Virginia, growing up with a love for music.
“The whole singing thing didn’t start out until I was probably eight or nine, Stowers said. “I sung in church two or three times. Everybody always said I need to keep singing, and I never really thought about it because I had low self-confidence about it.”
After a routine safety meeting Tuesday morning, he broke through his stage fright, singing the Stars and Stripes, stunning everyone in the room.
“It kind of blew everyone away, Alpha Natural Resources Senior Safety Representative Andrew Johnson, said. “When you listen to it, It sends chills up your spine. If it doesn’t, you got something wrong with you.”
The performance, which got more than a quarter-million views on Facebook, was a sweet-soothing call to come together.
“I wanted everybody to feel close together as a whole family right then and there,” Stowers said. “A bunch of guys I work with have past military experience and I knew that song would hit them real hard and make them feel comfortable. They could’ve had a bad day at that time, and that song would put them over the edge and make them feel better about themselves.”
The anthem’s lyrics also gives the necessary courage to carry out their tasks.
“Coal miners, they have to be brave,” Stowers said. “They’re going in to a place they don’t know if they’re going to walk out of it or not, but they have their families to worry about.”
For Stowers, the motivation comes from his wife Samantha and especially his 2-year old daughter Riley.
“That’s what pushes me every day,” Stowers said. “Nobody likes getting up to go to work, but it’s that thing – you have two other people that depend on you to do it.”
Blood may be thicker than water, but in an unpredictable world, having someone at your side is all that matters to face the music.
“Man, just the negativity that’s out there these days,” Johnson said. “We care about the country. We care about our job. We care about going home. We care about working safe. If you leave all of that behind – at the end of the day, we got each other.”
Stowers told 59 News he has no immediate plans to make this a daily routine, but he hopes that he has inspired his brothers from this point forward.