The recent West Virginia mine tragedy is a reminder of how much we owe countless people who risk their lives for our benefit. The agents who infiltrated the religious militia are another example. Of course without those who engage in human intelligence our lives would be far more precarious and uncertain. We tend to glorify spies and they often are quite well compensated for their efforts, but miners are just plain ordinary hard working folks who risk their lives for comparatively small salaries. The fruit of their labor is not heralded. We don’t much give thought to coal and other ores mined out from within the Earth, don’t acknowledge our need and where we would be without them. Even with the mining precious metals and gems we might make a fuss when a movie on the subject comes out or talk about blood diamonds at Christmas time, and then our attention recedes and our list of priorities shifts. But for those brave people who work the mines in West Virginia and elsewhere the dangers persist. To them in particular we ought to give our admiration and our thanks.