Delivered at I LOVE MOUNTAINS DAY on behalf of those who spent the weekend in the capitol.
Several of us gathered at our governor’s office on Friday, determined to secure for the land and the people of the coal fields, and for the water drinkers downstream, the full attention, long delayed, of the Governor, of state government, and of our fellow citizens. We came because the land, its forests, and its streams are being destroyed by the surface mining of coal, because the people are suffering intolerable harms to their homes, their health, and their communities, and because all the people downstream are threatened by the degradation and contamination of the rivers.
We have remained here until today because of desires that we know are shared by many thousands of the good people of our state and nation — desires that ought in reason and in justice to be shared by our elected representatives here in Frankfort: namely, that all of our home places should be healthy, that all of our headwater slopes should be safeguarded for us and our children forever by sustainably used and ever-cherished native forests, that every stream should run clear, that every child should breathe clean air, that the economy of every community should grow from the local soil and local resources, within the affection and care, by the skills, thrift, and intelligence of the local people.
The events of the past weekend have been widely noticed, have become “news,” carried evidently all over the nation. Now we want to say to all of you, who are here in love for the mountains and in protest against their destruction, that we do not look upon these events as finished. We do not think of what we have done as in any sense a symbolic gesture. We are humbled, instead, by the realization that our effort cannot be carried to success by us, or by any other few of us. If the adventure of the last few days, by this small company of friends, is to be more than a symbolic gesture, that can be only because all of you who are here, and many of our friends who are not here, will take it up, make it your adventure and your cause, until this great house will become the true home of justice to all the people of this state, and of faithful care for the divine gifts of land and water, and of life itself.