Obama to eulogize 29 miners


President Barack Obama will tell the families of 29 miners killed this month that the task for those left behind is “to save lives from being lost in another such tragedy.”

Obama is traveling to Beckley, W.Va. Sunday to deliver the eulogy at a memorial service for the miners killed at the Upper Big Branch Mine earlier this month.

White House officials said the president would largely avoid placing blame or discussing policy changes, even as Capitol Hill prepares for hearings on changes to mine safety laws.

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The president is traveling to a state that voted for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 2008 presidential race and that also favored Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic party.

Obama has promised a wide-ranging investigation of the accident, and more broadly said the administration would work with Congress to boost enforcement of laws and reform them. Obama also has said the Labor Department would streamline rules that allow regulators to take action against mines with patterns of safety problems.

According to excerpts of his speech released by the White House, the president will remember the victims as miners who worked a dangerous job to provide for their families.

“All the hard work. All the hardship. All the time spent underground. It was all for their families,” Obama says. “For a car in the driveway. For a roof overhead. For a chance to give their kids opportunities they never knew; and enjoy retirement with their wives. It was all in the hopes of something better. These miners lived – as they died – in pursuit of the American dream.”

The president was set to speak Sunday, after traveling from a brief vacation in Asheville, N.C., of the many letters he has received from miners and the families of miners since the mine explosion.

"They ask me to keep our miners in my thoughts," Obama said. "Never forget, they say, miners keep America’s lights on. Then, they make a simple plea: don’t let this happen again."