Being raised in Conemaugh Twp., Somerset County, it came as no shock to me that the miners survived, but the rest of the world just doesn't seem to understand! The rest of the world stood in awe of the local people who helped total strangers after the crash of that most heroic flight 93. It has been more than 25 years since I've moved to Florida, yet the Greater Johnstown area and people are first in my heart.
I watched the TV in horror, as did the rest of the world, on 9/11 as New York and Washington were attacked. There was a slight mention of a plane coming down close to Pittsburgh, then they said a "rural community" east of Pittsburgh. When I heard Somerset County, my heart dropped. My family, my friends! We called my uncle and he told us where the plane hit. As the hours, and then days passed, a lot of attention was given to Somerset County and the Johnstown area where I live in Florida. Newscasters spoke, almost in awe, about the kindness shown to loved ones. I couldn't understand why they didn't understand! We help each other, we help strangers. We help.
Less than a year later, the eyes of the world were once again upon this area. All the major news organizations covered the story non-stop, but you might be surprised to know that the local Florida TV news started with the miners! Our little local paper had headlines about the rescue attempt (when the normal headlines would be about the county commissioners!) Customers at the local WalMart were talking about it. We were horrified, we were terrified, and we all prayed. We prayed for a miracle and we got it. Those miners and their families needed a miracle, but America needed a miracle, too! We all rejoice in that miracle now.. how important that was for us all.
Two days ago, the movie was shown in Florida and I, like many others, watched with my heart in my throat. The movie was good, but I would have liked more emphasis on the family first. I also didn't like the "drawl" the actors used. Just because you are country people, doesn't mean you are from the south! I've been fighting that battle for years! I'm allowed to be a Yankee from the country!
When the movie was over, the local TV news in Tampa did an interview with the miners and were still in disbelief that anyone could survive that horrible experience. When the interview was over, they spoke about the courage it took. The newscasters again seemed surprised. Again, I was surprised at their surprise! But then, how could anyone explain the people and the courage of our people?
My Dad, my uncles, my Grandfather all worked in the mines and had all lived through the darkness, the dampness and the danger every day they worked. They ARE special people. Miners are irreverant, but still reverant. Miners can weep during life threatening situations, like the rest of the world, but miners are also the strongest men during life threatening situations. These are men you can count on, men you would trust your life with, men who would lose their own life to save you. These are the REAL Americans, men like these, who are proud.And they have a right to be proud!
It amazes me to see the Greater Johnstown area, especially Somerset County, come into the world spotlight. It amazes me that this area is seen with such wonder and almost disbelief. Since leaving, I have lived in Georgia, Seattle and Florida. I am here to tell you that there is NO place like the Johnstown Area, where people know your name, know your parents, know your grandparents.
The most precious part of this area is not the scenery, it is the people. People who will help you without a second thought. Strong and courageous people. Hard working people. Kind people. Compassionate people. Russian, Italian, Polish, Irish, Scotch, Slovak. American people.