Michael Bresciani
Chile: a lesson in courage, faith, and patriotism for the entire world
By Michael Bresciani
October 16, 2010

The capsule the Chilean Navy constructed traveled up and down through the earth a distance of 33 miles in total to save 33 trapped Chilean miners. The courage, faith and patriotism of the nation, the rescuers and the miners have now traveled across the globe to touch every nation in the world.

It is reported that one billion people or one sixth of the world's population watched the live feeds of the rescue of miners trapped underground near the town of Copiapo, located 800 kilometers north of Santiago, Chile. The rescue which is estimated to have cost $20 mil in U.S. dollars saw the retrieval of 33 precious souls buried almost hopelessly beneath 2,100 feet of dirt and rock.

From the retrieval of the first miner, Florencio Ávalos on Tuesday October 12, 2010 to the very last miner, Luis Alberto Urzua, to be pulled to safety on October 13, every detail of the miners' lives has been produced and made open to the public. The story of the miners and their families has followed the event and every move they have made since is still being watched by people in all nations.

Because there is such a profusion of facts and details about the rescue I have decided to look only at the message or the example reflected back to the world by the courage, faith and patriotism of this nation and its people.

As to the courage shown by these Chileans, many people stand out but no one would fail to agree that the first rescuer to be put into the 2100ft hole would stand in a class all by himself. Manuel Gonzalez was the first person from the surface the miners had seen in 69 days and they heartily cheered his arrival when the capsule slid into the underground prison in which they were trapped.

A close up shot of Gonzalez face could be seen just before the first descent. Only moments before he had been smiling and chatting with workers around him but, after entering the capsule he became deeply serious and a hint of fear first emanated from his eyes. He was about to be a human guinea pig and allow himself to be lowered into the mouth of hell where no human had been before him, in a manmade device that had never been used before. No one could know the outcome and, talk of possible falling rocks and other complications were no doubt rolling around in his head.

The whole world held its breath as this man entered a lonely, tight and un-traveled space and slid toward the very bowels of the earth. This same brave man was also the very last one to be lifted from the mine. If all the trips both in and out of the mine were counted including the tests, Mr. Gonzalez rode in on number one and out as number eighty. This is courage! The world is made better by such men; his family and his country have more reason to be proud of him than mere words can tell. When he ascended to the surface for the final time to proclaim that the mission was complete other rescuers broke out spontaneously and chanted "Manuel Gonzalez Pavez, hero of the 33!" Truly, he well deserved this praise.

The miners, the rescuers, the Presidente and the Chilean people were all courageous beyond anyone's expectations and have helped to put Chile both on the map and on a par with nations of noble character.

The faith of both the miners and the nation was also a story of gigantic proportions. Prayer vigils were held across the nation and the world. It was not known for the first seventeen days if any of the miners were even alive. When it was discovered that they were all alive and in one place it was then that the world discovered that a cohesive community of the entrapped had been fully organized and that included a daily spiritual life of prayer. One of the first things they asked for when discovered was copies of the Bible.

Almost every miner visibly thanked God upon arriving on the surface of the mine. Two of the miners fell to their knees and thanked God the second they stepped out of the capsule. No one tried to stop them or encroach upon them as they knelt in prayer and only after they had offered thanks did they stand to be welcomed by rescuers, co-workers and loved ones.

One of the most remarkable statements of faith made by any miner came from Mario Sepúlveda, the second man to reach the top. He made the now famous statement, "God and the devil were fighting over me and God won." He said he always knew God would get him out and he had complete faith in the Chilean professionals working so hard to lift him out and the Creator God.

Next to the amazing courage and faith was the show of unity and patriotism that everyone displayed. The waste of the Atacama Desert blossomed with the beautiful red, white and blue Chilean flag with the large white star imposed on the blue background. Flags were draped across the tents of the miner's families and spread across the rescue scene on huge display boards. Of course the rescue capsule itself was painted in the colors of the Chilean flag.

Perhaps as a sad footnote, I found myself thinking back to the images of people burning the American flag in foreign nations and even here at home. I could feel the contrast between those awful memories and the way these Chileans proudly displayed the colors of Chile.

The other high and patriotic scene that unfolded was the constant presence and attention of Chile's Presidente Sebastián Piñera. Against the advice of his staff who thought it far too dangerous for him to be so close to the mine, he waded right into the area and there he stayed until the last man was lifted from the mine.

Piñera, an undergraduate of Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and a graduate of Harvard University stood by greeting each miner as they emerged from the hole. No doubt he also talked with them as they waited to be lifted one by one. He substituted no emissary but stood by and welcomed and comforted each miner himself until he was able to pronounce to Mr. Manuel Gonzalez as they lifted him out as the last person to emerge from the entrance to hell itself; "Mision cumplida," mission accomplished.

Hats off to the proud nation of Chile; we celebrate your courageous, faithful and patriotic fellows who would be a credit to any nation on earth! "I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears." (Psalm 34: 4)

© Michael Bresciani


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