"How can we fail them?" Obama said from a stage with 29 white crosses arrayed before him. "How can a nation that relies on its miners not do everything in its power to protect them?" Obama was joined by Vice President Joe Biden in honoring the miners, who died in an underground explosion on April 5 at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, West Virginia, about 35 miles from Beckley. Obama and Biden met privately with the members of each grieving family at Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center. With them were West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, his wife Gayle, and the state's two senators, Robert Byrd and Jay Rockefeller.