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Mourning A Hero And A Friend

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10 September 2012, 9:40 AM
Larry Gibson, Keeper of the Mountains, Rests in Power
Larry Gibson, watching the sun set over decimated Kayford Mountain.

Last night we got devastating news. Larry Gibson, our close friend, partner, ally and comrade in the work to end mountaintop removal mining and secure justice for communities across Appalachia, had passed away of a heart attack. Larry was more than a friend and partner, he was our hero and our inspiration.

Like so many others, I was so inspired and humbled by Larry's tireless work to end mountaintop removal mining and protect all Appalachian people from this destructive mining practice. I wanted to share his story to inspire others and to show more people the hero so many of us saw in him.

He agreed to do this little video with Earthjustice. He asked me to make sure it got out to many people. I heard what he was saying. I felt the weight of his work and a responsibility to him. I knew he fought 30 years for his homeland and for his Appalachian brothers and sisters.

Larry Gibson, with Ken Hechler in the Blair Mountain march and rally in 2011.Larry Gibson, with his mentor and close friend Ken Hechler, at the Blair Mountain march and rally in 2011.

He’d been threatened, brutalized, burglarized and vandalized for his outspoken activism, and he lost most of his beloved home place, Kayford Mountain, to mountaintop removal mining. He hung on to to a small patch of green verdant land, but more than that, he hung on to his hope for a better future for others, and he never stopped working, fighting and sacrificing for it.

For the filming of our video, he took us up on Kayford Mountain. We finished filming just before sunset. When we were done, we took him off microphone, but we left the camera rolling as we sat there and watched the sunset in silence with him. As the sun set over his decimated Kayford—sublime colors of the sky over the surreal strip mine moonscape—he wept.

"You want to know what the real truth is about me? I just can't get used to it," he said, wiping his tears away. "The truth is, my heroes are the people who don't get used to this. The one that gets used to it is the one that won't do anything about it. I pray to God I got a lot of heroes."

There will only ever be one Larry Gibson, but we all must carry on his work. We can honor him by multiplying his voice.

Larry Gibson.

In Memoriam: Larry Gibson, 1946–2012. "I first set out to save my mountain, Kayford Mountain. By establishing a land trust, we saved our piece of it forever. Now, I fight to save all mountains, and all the people living in them. Because this movement can’t be about just me. It can’t be about just this mountain. It has to be about the people who don’t have a say, like our children and grandchildren."

There are things known and things unknown and in between are the doors.

Thank you for opening the doors Larry

In Larry's memory we must hold our representatives accountable. Hal Roger's(R) of Kentucky receives piles of money to support big coal. Kentucky even sells liscense plates that say "Friends of Coal". Go to and see the lobby money taken by politicians to allow this destructive behavior. My father, grandfather, and great grandfather all worked for scrip and were slaves to the coal industry. They all hated coal but they had to eat and have a roof. Grandpa was at Blair mountain and I was at Harlan in 1973. Mountain people have been exploited for a cenury and a half. Todays young people have access to the world that their ancestors had. They'll take care of business.

Bless your soul, Larry Gibson. And you have one- -a soul that lives on in your land and in the hearts of those whose lives you touched.
We Midwesterners ( WI, MN, Iowa and Illinois) are under siege from sand/strip miners removing our hills to feed the fracking monster. We did not ever think the atrocities you've fought for so long would ever be seen up here. We will continue to fight as you did for what is right, for what is moral, for what is truth. Our hills cannot speak. Your mountains have no voice. If not us, whom? If not now, when? Thank you for the Land Trust so we can see what the truth looks like.
Thanks be to God for Larry Gibson !

On Saturday, Larry and I spoke about his deep concern regarding the situation with Patriot and the UMWA. He had planned to be at today’s (Tuesday) UMWA rally in Charleston to show solidarity with “the people.” His concern was always for the people of his beloved West Virginia and Appalachia. He devoted his life to making our world a fair and just world for all. My heart is full today thinking of my friend. I am so grateful that he was my ‘buddy’ and mentor. I am a better person because of Larry Gibson’s love in my life and love is forever. My prayers are with Carol and his children and friends.
Thank you to Liz and all Larry's friends at Earthjustice for their unwaivering support of his work to stop MTR. Thank you Earthjustice for appreciating and honoring our friend and mentor, Larry Gibson.

Thank you for showing us courage, thank you for showing us what real beauty is, thank you for reminding us what is important, thank you for your sacrifices, thank you for showing us a real hero, thank you for the strength to continue your legacy.

My thoughts go out to who knew Larry. He seems like a caring and dedicated man. May we all do our part to continue his work and preserve these beautiful mountains for generations to come.

Dear Larry,
Thank you for the inspiration. Thank you for being a fighter. Thank you for standing up against the evils committed by the corporations against the people and the land.
Thank you for making a difference.

Larry Gibson was a true hero, a champion for preservation and finding a better way, safeguarding the homeland for our children to come. May he rest in peace knowing he will continue to inspire beyond his lifetime.

I'm moved everytime I hear about Larry. Just know that your Dad, your Grandfather, your in a place that really can move mountains without destruction and he has been such a gift here, his legacy will be forever ingrained in the earth, the air, the kind words, the remebrance. For his love has not ended, rather it's just evolved beyond the physical. Thank you for sharing this brave man with us. To each and everyone of you, thank you.
Many Blessings,
Vanessa & Steve Wishstar from the Colorado Rocky Mountains

This is so very sad. I felt that I knew Larry through his tireless work for Kayford Mountain and for mountain top mining in general. My heart goes out to his family and friends and to all people living in this devastation.

I was heartbroken to hear of Larry's passing. I sat here at my desk this morning and cried while watching the video that was made of Larry and his beautiful Kayford Mountain -- the love of what he was able to save and the heartache of the destruction of the rest of the Mountain around him........may we all carry on his cause to save these lands for future generations......

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