Wednesday, November 20 marks the 45th anniversary of the Farmington No. 9 mine explosion.
Seventy-eight miners lost their lives that day in 1968, but state officials and area residents are continuing to keep their memory alive.
On Sunday, family members and hundreds of people gathered in Mannington to place wreaths at the site of the disaster.
United Mine Workers of America said it will join the community every year to remember that fateful day that changed the lives of so many.
"Some people were thinking about, perhaps, Christmas shopping when they got home. Some people were thinking about what they had to do, maybe to go to church. But within an hour or two, everyone's lives were turned upside down," said Cecil Roberts, UWMA international president.
"But let me tell you what you've done with your lives since then. You've taken this great tragedy and turned it into something positive. It's been alluded to here time and time again: these men didn't just die. These men were heroes. These men saved people's lives. It was a terrible sacrifice that you made, but I want you to think for a moment….those 25 years before the passing of the 1969 Coal Mine Health and Safety Act, 30,000 miners lost their lives," said Roberts.
Those 21 men who were able to escape the mine were also in attendance at Sunday's memorial.