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Transcript of interview with Ken Hechler, May 4, 1993, for the film "West Virginia"

Source: WV History Film Project

[Announcer is in error, date is MAY 4th, not APRIL 4th].
Excuse me.

Q: Mr. Heckler, you have been active in West Virginia for almost 40 years now.
KH: That's about right.

Q: And, it's changed a great deal over that time, but in some ways it hasn't changed. Some things in West Virginia stayed, disappointingly, the same. Is it corruption, is it environmental problems, is it control? Tell me about the "big picture" of West Virginia that you struggle with.
JJHH 0049
KH: Unfortunately, poverty in West Virginia has never been reduced to the extent that those who, optimistically, tried to defeat it, have attempted, and there is still too many people in West Virginia that are living with substandard incomes. Children that are undernourished. Health care that is not available to many. Many people who want to get an education, don't have an opportunity and our schools still have to be brought up to the national standard. These are all things that still yet have to be done, and, of course, it's a never-ending fight to try and clean up elections because there seems to be a tradition of corruption in West Virginia which is particularly true south of the Kanawha River. These are all things which still yet have to be done in order to make West Virginia a better place to live.

Q: How do you think it is that West Virginia has lagged behind? What, what's the root cause?
JJHH 0154
KH: I think that the initial cause is primarily because of the extractive industries in West Virginia, the exploiters, the out-of-state people who have come in from Pittsburgh and New York and New England states, and have dug our natural resources and taken the wealth out of the state without leaving enough for our people. We are a very wealthy state with poor people. And, I think that that is the dilemma that we're constantly facing here in West Virginia. Nobody has really gotten together and attacked the problem of the low taxation on excess acreages in West Virginia. Huge acreages are owned by coal barons, railroad companies, lumber companies, and land companies who pay a low amount of revenue that enables us to have better schools, better roads, better services for everyone. And the tax burden, unfortunately, has rested too much on the middle class in West Virginia and the poorer people.

Q: Now, one of the people who came in to try to shape things up, who tried to change things in the teens and the twenties was Mother Jones. Tell me about Mother Jones.
JJHH 0288
KH: Well, Mother Jones had an expression; "there's no peace in West Virginia because there's no justice in West Virginia." She was a fearless lady. The people who manned the machine guns and didn't hesitate to shoot down male strikers, would never kill Mother Jones and she knew they wouldn't and she stood up for the coal miners of West Virginia and rallied them to organize the United Mine Workers. She also was a critic of some of the local leaders of the Unions who did not fight as strongly for the rank and file. She was a real person who was a precursor of the Miners for Democracy who attempted to return control of the United Mine Workers to the average rank and file coal miner. But, most of all, it was her courage to stand up and insist that the coal miners deserved better conditions and the only way they could get those better conditions was through organizing.
JJHH 0387
And, she ran up against the course a lot of very reactionary politicians and the laws in the state and nation were inimical to her efforts until Franklin D. Roosevelt came along with the National Labor Relations Act, the Wagner Act and Section 7A of the NRA. All these things, suddenly, helped what Mother Jones had started to materialize and come to fruition.

Q: What were her methods? What did so do to accomplish her goals?
JJHH 0443
KH: Mother Jones went out among the coal miners and convinced them, personally, that they had an opportunity to have a better life and to get a better life, they must have the same courage that she demonstrated to stand up and insist that they get, not only better wages, but better living conditions and their children had a right to grow up and go to school and be future leaders of the state. She was able to convince them because she was a very dynamic and magnetic leader who was a tremendous speaker in terms of being able to inspire huge numbers of miners to get out and fight for the things that she believed in and, eventually, she was able to convince them that they deserved the things that she was presenting to them.

Q: What was the reaction on the part of miners and their families to this fiery, 80 year- old woman?
JJHH 0540
KH: Well, the reaction of some of the Union leaders, of course, was "maybe we are going to loose control of our leadership." But, the miners themselves began to see. She got through to them, began to see that that was the only way that they could improve their lot. The only way that they could get out of the tents that they were living in when the companies had burned down their houses and the company houses had been taken away from them. And, Mother Jones really convinced them that they could really improve themselves by organizing and standing-up and in unity, there was strength which she convinced them was the only way to go.

Q: What was the reaction on the part of coal operators, the Baldwin Felts Detectives and the governor?
JJHH 0616
KH: Well, the coal operators, of course, immediately hired more Baldwin Felts Guards and goons and the kinds of people that would try and intimidate the miners and prevent the miners from doing the kinds of things that Mother Jones insisted were necessary in order to give them dignity and to make sure that their families would be able to grow up in a better society. So, the governors of West Virginia, unfortunately, were very unsympathetic; they tried to enforce the Reactionary Laws that were on the books at that time and, even, the President of the United States had to send in the Air Force to try and "bomb them into submission." But, after all, when people believe in a principle as Mother Jones convinced them, guns, killings, bloodshed, after all those were things that our whole country was founded on in the War for Independence.
JJHH 0714
These were Mountaineers who had faced problems coming across the mountains to settle in our rugged territory. They were used to hardship and, so, they began to see the bright light that Mother Jones was able to shine over the horizon for them.

Q: What did that whole movement, that whole fifteen year period from 1912 through middle 1920's, what did that really accomplish?
JJHH 0761
KH: As you look back and see the numerous set-backs that the miners took. As you look back and see the way in which their state government, their Federal government deserted them, sometimes you have to come to the conclusion that it was a negative result. On the other hand, it was the seeds of revolt which Mother Jones sowed during that period, eventually, came and grew into fruition when FDR became President and gave the miners the right to organize and bargain collectively and FDR came along with the minimum wage and many other programs that were able to raise the status of the miners. So, the period from 1912 down to the New Deal might seem in history to be a negative period, but it gave the miners the courage to move forward and to battle against these forces of exploitation and depression that were trying to crush them under their heel.

Q: Let's go ahead now to the '30's. The Depression set in very deep in West Virginia. It took a bad situation and made it worse. Tell me about what you know about Arthurdale and Eleanor Roosevelt's grand socialistic spirit.
JJHH 0894
KH: Arthurdale was the brainchild of Eleanor Roosevelt. A woman of great compassion for human beings and the American Friends Service Committee had told her a little bit about the deplorable conditions of the coal miners around Morgantown, in an area called Scotts Run. And, she paid several visits there before people even photographed her and realized that this was the First Lady coming down to see. And, there's some very moving things that she saw and reported back to her husband, the President of the United States. Little things like she describes in her autobiography, the visit to a family where six or seven children in rags were sleeping on the floor. Where only one of them could go to school because that was the only dress, or the only pair of pants, in the family.

Q: Pick that story up. We just ran out of film,

Q: That was ten minutes.
KH: All right.

Q: That's a good story. I'd like to just pick that up.


Q: You have explained how Eleanor came to come out to Arthurdale. Tell me what she started to do.
JJHH 1006
KH: Eleanor Roosevelt was a person who really had a tremendous compassion for human beings and she knew when she got back to the White House that her husband was going to ask her a lot of questions about what she had seen and observed. So, she became even more observant as time went on. In West Virginia, she saw the very depths of poverty and destitution. In a place called Scotts Run, just outside of Morgantown, she tells about a visit to a home where they really didn't have anything to eat except there was a bowl on the table with a few scraps that you would ordinarily feed to a dog and, every now and then, some of the children would come and pick a potato peeling out and munch on it. That's the only thing that they had to eat and they only had an opportunity in a family of six children to send one boy and one girl to school for one day because they only had one dress and one pair of pants. They didn't even have shoes.
JJHH 1116
And, on one of those occasions, Mrs. Roosevelt reported a story of a little boy that had a white rabbit that, obviously, was one his favorite pets. And, there was a scrawny girl who whispered in Mrs. Roosevelt's ear, as the boy was holding for the rabbit, holding the rabbit, "he doesn't know that we are going to have to eat that rabbit tonight." And, those were the kinds of things that really touched Eleanor Roosevelt's heart and caused her to go back to the White House and say "we've got to do something about West Virginia." And, her idea was, then, to move a lot of these unemployed, poverty-stricken miners out of the areas where they had no electricity, no running water, sewage was pouring into a stream where they were drawing their drinking water and typhoid was rampant in the area, and she negotiated through the Resettlement Administration Subsistence Homestead Program to purchase a large estate that was formerly owned by the Arthur Family, about fifteen miles outside of Morgantown, to enable these miners to live in clean surroundings, to grow their own crops and to have part-time jobs in a small furniture factory and, later on, other types of handicrafts that were developed there.
JJHH 1263
And, this was a real God-send, of course, to these people. Even though they were criticized roundly by the opponents of the New Deal who called it Socialism and Communism and they were always trying to find something wrong. And, news reporters would come out and try to write stories about some of the things that went wrong. For example, they sent fifty pre-fabricated houses down from Cape Cod that couldn't withstand the West Virginia winter. And, this was a laughing stalk among the big city press people that came down there. But, Eleanor Roosevelt did lift the spirit of those people in Arthurdale, and even today the people who still live there and bought their houses, sons and grandsons of the original residents are expressing pride in what they were able to accomplish in Arthurdale.

Q: What do you think the reaction of these miners and their families was towards the First Lady?
JJHH 1364
KH: It was very, very positive the reaction that the miners had toward Mrs. Roosevelt because she came, not as the First Lady with a chauffeured limousine, but she came and entered into the houses of the miners and talked with them and, immediately, won their confidence. The children, of course, were a little bit harder to get to know. Nevertheless, Mrs. Roosevelt was such a compassionate person that she was able to convince the miners that they didn't deserve this type of living that they had, that they deserved something better and that she could maybe possibly help them in terms of giving them an opportunity to grow their own food, to work at things that might earn a little subsistence living and to have a healthy existence. In addition to that, of course, she was very interested in education.
JJHH 1459
And, she was interested in the fact that so few of the miners and their children had an opportunity to learn to read and write or to go to schools. So, what she did at Arthurdale was to set up a school there, which enabled the miners' families and, even the miners, themselves, to learn to be productive citizens in the community.

Q: What was the view of the Roosevelts on the whole experience of Arthurdale?
JJHH 1507
KH: Well, the Roosevelts, themselves, thought of this as an experiment, something the whole New Deal, in the eyes of FDR and the First Lady, was an experiment to try and do things that would lift the people to a plateau of more dignity. To enable them to earn their own living, to break the shackles of unemployment and poverty and living on the dole and, all these things, in addition to the other programs that FDR started, were things that they were really proud of because they could see the results and the raised morale of the people in the state of West Virginia.

Q: Great. Let's leap ahead in time. (Slide two inches to your left.) Let's just cut, for a second.
KH: All right.

Q: Steve.


Q: Tell me about FDR's more successful program, the CCC.
JJHH 1612
KH: The Civilian Conservation Corps was, really, the most exciting thing that FDR started. It was entirely his brain child. Within a month after he took office, why he sent a message to Congress asking that this program be started. A program that would take people who were unemployed, between the ages of 18 and 25, give them a healthy environment among the woods and forests, not only in the state here, but to send West Virginians out to other states where they had never visited. Some 50,000 West Virginians took part in this great program which built all of our present State Parks, which developed such a comradery among the CCC'ers.
JJHH 1686
I have been to lots of reunions of CCC'ers that talk with such wonderful nostalgia back on the period when they were able to, on $30.00 a month to send $25.00 of it back to their home families to do a constructive program where they were building trails, planting trees, building firebreaks, cabins, and improving things that, today, in West Virginia we're very proud of. They are still in existence from this program that started sixty years ago. It's certainly one of the most exciting parts of the whole New Deal and one that was highly successful, not only in the lives of the individuals, but also in the permanent improvements here in West Virginia.

Q: OK. Let's cut until the jet goes up.


Q: As long as we are on this Washington to West Virginia highway, let's walk down it in 1960. Tell me about John F. Kennedy's primary in West Virginia and what it really, what he meant to West Virginia and what West Virginia meant to him.
JJHH 1794
KH: John F. Kennedy had to win West Virginia, in the first place, in order to prove that a Catholic could be elected President. That was the primary political interest that he had in West Virginia. But, he was shocked by some of the things that he saw in the way of poverty, here in the state and he resolved that when he got into office, after he was elected President, that he would do something about it. And, he never forgot the kinds of, the poverty that he observed, the undernourished children and, the very first act of his Presidency was to increase the number of surplus commodities that could help feed West Virginians. Also, of course, he had a very frank approach which really endeared himself to West Virginians. I remember an occasion down in Cabin Creek where he, after every speech he would always allow questions and a department store owner began to heckle him a little bit about his support of the minimum wage.
JJHH 1900
And, saying, the department store owner said that he could hire a lot more people and he would have to lay them off, it the minimum wage went into effect. And, I've always remembered Kennedy looking at that store owner and saying "I disagree with you, after all, we have to think of the people who work, first ." And the crowd applauded. They loved it. Many, many politicians, of course, approach a question like that by trying to please the questioner, but that wasn't Kennedy. And, he loved the state. Several amusing incidents occurred on his way, first, when he first came down here. I saw him sitting in the front of the plane, on one occasion, repeating over and over again, Kanawha, Kanawha, Kanawha, he didn't want, he didn't want to mispronounce it "Kanawhile" like many politicians from out of state do as they come in. But, he had studied up on the state. And, I recall another occasion when he realized when he.

Q: Take?? We just ran out of film. I want you to hold that thought.


Q: Mr. Secretary, tell me about that other personal recollection that you had of John F. Kennedy on the plane.
JJJA 0021
KH: John F. Kennedy was a great student of history. One day as we were riding into West Virginia, he was looking at the map and he understood that he was going to Logan. And, he said, very softly under his breath, "who is there to mourn for Chief Logan, no not one." This, of course, was a very famous line that he had picked up from a history book, yet, it stuck in his mind.
JJJA 0070
He was a very, very compassionate person just like Eleanor Roosevelt and he liked to learn more by going down into coal mines, by visiting schools, and it was on one occasion when he visited the school that something very moving occurred. When the school kids were getting their lunches, he noticed that one of the students was not eating his. And, he went over to ask him "why?' And, that student simply said "that he had to bring that lunch home to his family." And, this made a very deep impression on John F. Kennedy, and it made him the kind of President who never forgot West Virginia and made sure that, after he became President, that he would do something to try to see if he could reduce the amount of poverty that he had observed, both in the mines and in the schoolrooms and in the factories that he visited.

Q: Of course, his programs were cut short, unfortunately, and President Johnson continued down in the Great Society. Let's pause, let's cut.


Q: What do you think the war on poverty meant for West Virginia?
JJJA 0210
KH: The war on poverty started out on exactly the right foot when it enlisted the poor, it empowered the poor, VISTA workers and other people who came and demonstrated to poor people that they have to organize and empower themselves and throw off the shackles of the exploiters and the corrupt political systems that had kept them down for so long. And, this began to succeed in a very dramatic way as the VISTA workers, coming in fresh from other states, were able to demonstrate to the poor that they really had more power than they realized. It was only then that the politicians began to complain to the members of Congress in Washington that these poor people were really undermining, "they're almost like Communists in here." And, so, unfortunately, the Congress, over my violent objections, passed what was known as the Green Amendment to turn a lot of the poverty programs back to the very politicians who had caused the problems in the first place.
JJJA 0329
But, the war on poverty did, actually, succeed as the New Deal had in improving the lot of many West Virginians that had, hitherto, been ground down into positions of poverty. So, actually, there are many, many improvements that were made, also, but as they began to invest more and more of the money into highways and public buildings and new Courthouses without looking at the real roots of poverty and the causes of poverty, why the poverty was was a failure. On the other hand, there is still some aspects, there are still some aspects of the war on poverty that are in existence. The Head Start Program, which was started by Sergeant Shriver, the first Director of the War on Poverty, is still in existence. And, in all 55 counties in West Virginia we have Head Start Programs that are now operating to enable pre-school youngsters from families that are not affluent, to get an opportunity to get a start in school.
JJJA 0444
The Job Corps, which enables drop-outs to return to school and get the skills necessary to enable them to be productive members of the society. These are programs which are still in existence and have really helped. But, I think what has hurt, most of all, is the initial stages of the war on poverty which empowered the poor people were destroyed by the politicians.

Q: One of the by-products of the war on poverty was that it presented or represented an image of West Virginia to the nation. An image of poverty. An image of barefoot children in front of shacks. What was it like? What do you think that that image, the impact of that image was?
JJJA 0520
KH: First of all, I think when you present things as they honestly are, that is necessary in order to cure the evils that you're addressing. There are a lot of politicians in West Virginia who resented the fact that we were shining a search light on the conditions of poverty. But, that is the only way that those conditions could have been improved. And, this was absolutely necessary in order to get the necessary support and financing and to understand why poverty exists in West Virginia.

Q: Great. The end of the '60's, a mine blew up in Farmington and killed 78 men. It was a horrific event. Tell me about your personal experience and reaction to that.
JJJA 0603
KH: The Farmington disaster, on the twentieth of November, 1968, was a water shed in many people's lives. It completely changed my own personal life because I was so shocked with the fact that the President of the United Mine Workers Union, Tony Boyle, said that this is just a disaster which was inherent, which always occurs whenever you have coal mining and it occurs, according to Tony Boyle, in a company, the Consolidation Coal Company, which has a good safety record. That shocked me. And, it shocked the miners of West Virginia. And, it shocked the Congress. It, also, shocked everyone and it shocked me, particularly, to see some of the political leaders in West Virginia saying "oh, well, that's just one of those things that comes along with coal mining, you have to get used to it." It so shocked me, personally, that I made a determination, immediately after Farmington that something had to be done in order to raise the status of coal miners.
JJJA 0712
To protect their safety, but, also, to protect their health. Up to that point, we didn't have any law, whatsoever, on the Statute Books that set the level of coal mine dust allowable at coal mines. Or did anything about these poor coal miners that were suffering from pneumoconiosis, the Black Lung Disease, which affects all coal miners that go down and work underground. And, so even though there weren't any other members of Congress from West Virginia that did anything about it, I decided, at that point, to organize the widows of Farmington who were very concerned about making sure that something like this would never happen again and to make sure --

Q: Let's stop for a second, Mr. Secretary. Hello. Excuse me, I'll be right back.


Q: Mr. Secretary, how did it come to be that, after Farmington in that disaster, the Union didn't seem to represent the interests of its' own people. How did that situation come to be?
JJJA 0823
KH: I think that, perhaps, Tony Boyle looked on the Consolidation Coal Company, which was contributing to the Miners' Retirement Fund, as a good company and so, Tony Boyle was a little bit hesitant, maybe, to criticize the company after the Farmington Disaster. Sharp contrast to John L. Lewis who thundered before the Senate Committees about this mass murder that occurred whenever there was a disaster. But, --

Q: Tell me a little bit more about John L. Lewis. What's your take on him.
KH: Well, John L. Lewis was a dynamic and dramatic leader of the union. He may have hurt the Union by --

Q: Sorry. Sorry. We are apparently having exercises.
KH: Yea.


Q: Tell me about John L. Lewis.
JJJA 0922
KH: Well, John L. Lewis was both a tremendous inspiration to the coal miners by his leadership and insisting on the health care program through the Appalachian Regional Hospitals, which he established, the royalty, which he exacted from the coal operators in order to establish the health and retirement fund. These were real pluses, but, on the other hand, he presided over the mechanization of the mines and the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs here in West Virginia. And, toward the end of his career, he made one very fatal mistake in choosing his successor. Because, apparently, John L. Lewis wanted to choose a person who was not as big as he was, so that he would still shine as the champion of the coal miner. And, Tony Boyle was a little man compared to Lewis.
JJJA 1010
I remember when Tony Boyle visited Farmington, he drove up in a long, black limousine and an immaculately tailored suit, with a rose in his button-hole, a silk handkerchief and, it almost seemed as though he was brushing any little speck of coal dust off of this suit before he went to the microphone to defend the record of the Consolidation Coal Company which had been responsible for the deaths of 78 men, working in that mine.

Q: Good. Just filled out a film. We'll do another magazine?


Q: Mr. Secretary, tell me about Black Lung movement which lead to the Miners for Democracy. Tell me about what it was, what impact it had on West Virginia.
JJJA 1086
KH: The Black Lung movement started as a revolt against the leadership of the United Mine Workers and, in addition to that, it started as a revolt against the Congress and the State Legislature for failing to do anything to protect the health and safety of the coal miners -- the most dangerous occupation in which hundreds of miners had been killed and many more maimed and injured and their lungs reduced to a point where they couldn't breathe. So, this started in the aftermath of Farmington. Farmington shocked both the nation, the state, and the miners themselves. And made them determined that something had to be done. And since the leadership of the United Mine Workers, under Tony Boyle, had insisted that the only way that Congress could improve the situation was to pass a safety bill. Tony Boyle refused to do anything about the health of the miners.
JJJA 1193
Meanwhile, television was entering the living rooms of people all over the nation, depicting the condition of the miners. And, I, of course, tried to encourage this by bringing miners, the widows of Farmington, to Washington to enable them to testify before a Congressional Committees, and Members of Congress, and Members of the West Virginia State Legislature began to see as the miners, themselves, organized Black Lung Rallies, went on wild-cat strike where 40,000 miners --

Q: Excuse me, sir. It's ??
KH: Boy, you hear them coming.


Q: Stop, now. Cut.


Q: When the first claims that there was such a thing as Black Lung came out, there were a lot of denials. People didn't, said that that's not what's causing it, it was caused by cigarette smoke and it was caused by other things. There seemed to be an organized effort to put this under-wrap. Tell me about it.
JJJA 1312
KH: There was certainly an organized effort to try to demonstrate that coal dust was good for you. This is when I, before one of the rallies at the Civic Center in Charleston, held up a big slab of bologna to answer those doctors, those company-employed doctors, who insisted that possibly coal dust might prevent pneumonia and things like that. And, all these troubles that miners had were caused by cigarette smoke, rather than by, well, of course, cigarette smoke hurts, but cigarette smoke combined with coal dust, can be fatal. Those were the things that the miners themselves were out on wild-cat strikes against the direct orders of the United Mine Workers who didn't consider these to be real legitimate strikes, which they were sponsoring.

Q: Let's pause for a second. Let him go over.
KH: All right.

Q: Keep rolling. How was that reaction against the evidence overcome?
JJJA 1431
KH: The reaction against the kind of evidence which the doctors was presenting was demonstrated before the State Legislature and its' Legislative Committees and before the Congress by living examples, the miners themselves, who came to Washington, wheezing and coughing and demonstrating while doctors, that were from the Bethesda Naval Hospital, tested them before the Congressmen and demonstrated to them that these were things that were really hurting the breathing and lungs of the miners themselves. There were three doctors, of course, Dr. I.E. Buff, Dr. Don Rasmussen, and Dr. Hoye?? Wells,?? who helped lead the crusade by organizing rallies of the coal miners to demonstrate. As national correspondents and TV came to cover and demonstrate to both the State Legislature and the Congress that this was something that had to be corrected, despite the contentions of the coal operators and their lackeys, the doctors on their payrolls.

Q: You mentioned it, but I want you to tell me in a concise manner, what was Black Lung doing to the health of miners?
JJJA 1568
KH: Black Lung was injuring the lungs of the miners; as coal dust got into their lungs, it prevented them from breathing, it solidified, in such a way, that sometimes even x-rays could even pick it up and for days after a miner went into the mine, whenever he would blow his nose, why black dust would come out. Frequently, they had to sleep in front of open doorways in order to be able to breathe because this, gradually, debilitated their effort to, to oxygenize the blood through their lungs. It deprived them of the necessary oxygen which was necessary to sustain life, itself.

Q: Was it killing miners?
JJJA 1652
KH: Black Lung killed many, many miners. In fact, a lot of the company doctors who had put on the death certificates "died of heart attack." Well, when you had to over-exert your heart because of the effect of this coal dust on you lungs, naturally, it caused heart attacks. But, the initial cause was the coal dust itself, which had brought about that heart attack.

Q: OK. Good. We covered that. Tell me about in the '60's, and in the '70's, particularly, we began to discover another negative side effect of coal mining. It's ravages upon the surface of strip mining on the land of West Virginia. Tell me about that.
JJJA 1743
KH: In the late 1960's and early 1970's, we began to see an unprotected ravaging of the land by coal operators who came in and ripped the surface off of the land, polluted the streams, denuded the hills that caused floods, as they tore down trees. Frequently, these strip miners would strip a whole area and then pack-up and leave the state without doing anything about reclaiming. And, all these things had, not only effect on the environment, itself, but on the homes of some of the people that lived in the valleys. People who, once, had an opportunity to fish in the streams, who drew their water from the streams and found that, now, it was filled with iron and sulfate and kinds of things that made those streams no longer livable for fish, no longer drinkable for their water. And, this, here again, a lot of people kept saying "well, we need these jobs in West Virginia; we can't do anything about slowing down the employment that strip mining provides -- jobs, the best way to get jobs is to have a war and strip mining is war on the environment." That's exactly what it is.

Q: What do you think the future of West Virginia coal?
JJJA 1914
KH: I think if we can really begin to tackle the most obvious problems of political corruption and of exploitation, that West Virginia has a tremendous future. This is the most beautiful state in the Union. Tourists come into my office, the Secretary of State's Office, from all over the world and marvel about the majesty of our mountains, our streams, the opportunities to do white water rafting, skiing, and hiking, and mountain climbing and spelunking. All these things are a tremendous attractions. And, it is a wonderful place to live and to raise a family. But, still we are plagued by the problems of political corruption, exploitation by out-of-state interests.

Q: Let's pause for a second. I want you to finish that thought. I told you we would lose a battery.


Q: Mr. Secretary, what is your personal attachment to West Virginia.
JJJA 2009
KH: I love the people of West Virginia. There is a family tradition here. People who leave West Virginia for jobs in Gary, Indiana or down in North Carolina, always want to come back home. "Take me home, country roads, back to the place where I belong." The people are here because they came over the mountains to establish a new life. They are rugged individualists. They are optimists for the future. I'm optimistic for the future of the state, if we tackle these problems of political corruption and exploitation which still haunt our beautiful state.

Q: Good. Cut.