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San Jose Mine, Copiapo, Chile
A satellite image shows the relief efforts to reach the trapped miners in the San Jose Mine in Copiapo, Chile. (credit: DigitalGlobe/Flickr)

Watching those miners emerge in a steel-cage projectile from the collapsed mine in Chile is miraculous. It’s risky business and it has been done with aplomb. What I’ve been struck with is the celebratory spirit of the event. Chileans gather in a central plaza waving Chile’s flag and laughing and cheering; rescued miners surface to quickly embrace their loved ones and then play to the surrounding crowd, pumping fists and yelling and urging supporters on.

Locals Cheer Rescue from Copiapo Mine
Locals cheer in Copiapo square before the start of a risky rescue operation to hoist the 33 trapped miners from the bottom of a collapsed mine. (photo: Bruno Sepulveda/AFP/Getty Images)

I don’t think we would see that type of celebration here in the United States. I imagine a sense of solemnity and solitary viewing might take place. We Americans would silently be waiting for the news of disaster avoided rather than success achieved. And, for me, this is the lesson: acknowledge our frailty as human beings and revere how we move forward and do incredible things in spite of it — with our fists pumping in the air.

And, since I’m a father and a brother, these following three images really grabbed me. They are not shots of the first rescued miner, Florencio Avalos, but of his father and brother thanking the stars, embracing the moment and each other with amazement, and weeping over a loved one who will be coming home again.

Father of Chilean Miner Celebrates His Son's Rescue
Alfonso Avalos, father of Chilean miner Florencio Avalos, celebrates after his son was brought to the surface on October 13, 2010. (photo: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images)

Father of Chilean Miner Embraces His Son
Alfonso Avalos (right) and his son Wilson embrace after learning Florencio successfully made it to the surface after spending 10 weeks trapped in a collapsed mine 800 km north of Santiago, Chile. (photo: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images)

Father of Chilean Miner Embraces His Son
(photo: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images)


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7 Comments

I agree that there are lessons to be learned, but I think the American scene would be different than you propose. I see blimps, helicopters, full-on Hollywood lighting systems, celebs fighting for the chance to go down into the mine, every politician within a 250 mile radius showing up to that he/she is proposing legislation that would ban mining disasters. I see powerade and gatorade fighting to be the official sponsor of the rescue effort and to have a cooler of their sweet gu poured over the lead crane operator's head. I see a reality show "They spent two months under the ground, but can they spend two weeks together in 'Vegas." I see folks referring to American miners and recovery workers as "The brightest and bravest in the world." You get the picture. Hell, after a couple months living in the very here- and-now, after spending a couple days being chased by TMZ, American miners would be looking for the down elevator.

Well, that is quite the free-for-all scenario! <grin></grin>

Trent, I am not sure I agree with you that this celebration would be different in America. I don't have anything specific to back that up, but I feel that after a long ordeal such as this, and knowing everybody had survived, there would be lots of celebration in America, as well. I sure hope so!

Claudia, I agree with you wholeheartedly. There would be lots of celebration, but I wonder more about the manner of celebration and gathering that might take place up until everybody was safe. Nevertheless, it is a joyous triumph in spite of the calamity of events. Thank you for commenting.

I am hopeful that the celebrations do not interfere too much with these men's adjustment to live back on top of the earth. I admire the Chile's response, but wonder (along with blb) whether it wouldn't be more of commercialized zoo.

One of the stories I have found most interesting (albeit a little sad) is the reaction in China -- people wonder whether their government would do as much for them. I hope so. & what if this situation in some way taught the Chinese government to do that? That would be extra wonderful.

Do you have a link to that story? I'd like to read it.

May we ALL learn how to work together with the rest of the world as the Chilieans have done in this crisis.

apples