By Mike Tony, Charleston Gazette-Mail
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — 2002 was the year the West Virginia coal miner memorial statue at the state Capitol Complex in Charleston was dedicated. It also was the year Gary Hairston had to quit mining coal because of black lung disease.
Twenty years later, the statue and Hairston are both still standing. The former is tended to regularly, with flowers planted and removed seasonally around its perimeter. The latter feels forgotten.
Hairston, 68, of Beckley, was among more than two-dozen mine veterans and their advocates who made a stand together in front of the memorial statue Thursday.
“We need somebody working for us,” said Hairston, president of the National Black Lung Association…
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