BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — The Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster was an event the state of West Virginia will never forget. Even 12 years later, the community comes together with family and friends of those 29 miners lost to honor their lives.

Through tears and grief, there were smiles at a memorial event at the Beckley Court House Tuesday, April 6, 2022. Smiles embraces, and laughter as a community remembers the good times with those lost.

Lt. Chris Lanna of the Beckley Fire Department Honor Guard said the U.B.B. certainly has had an impact on his department’s procedures for disaster response.

“We always have our standard procedures. Those are changing over the years as we see different events that occur. Learning from past events, we might change our training procedures to cover those problems in the future, too. So we never know what we might respond to. So we always try to be prepared, be as prepared as we can be for whatever event might occur,” Lanna said.

In a perfect world, events like U.B.B. would never occur but sadly our world is less than perfect. The disaster showed our community the dangers unsafe mining can cause. It showed us weakness in our response procedures. It showed us how fragile life can be.

However, 12 years later it has also shown us strength in our ability to learn, adapt, and reinforce what we know of our heroes who rush into danger for others. They live to serve, protect, and honor everyone in their community.