Lee’s Summit, October 13, 2010 – Congratulations to the Chilean Miners!!! What a triumph of the human spirit! The 33 individuals trapped since August 5th are a real inspiration. To be trapped for 17 days without knowing if anyone will find you, eating what little they had brought with them, and perhaps if there were any some rations in the shelter.
As the first man came out of the mine, my house erupted in cheers. As you may or may not know, I was born and raised in Argentina and Chile is simply the country on the other side of the Andes Mountains. There is joy in Chile. There is Joy in Argentina. There is Joy in the rest of South America, Central America, North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa and the rest of the world.
In my lifetime the only thing that compares is the safe return of the Apollo 13 astronauts that happened in my last year in Argentina (yes, which gives you an idea of my age). The whole world waited to hear the culmination of the efforts of so many people. The same thing is happening tonight as I write this. Every country with any expertise has lent a hand to Chile. Their expertise from mining to people in trauma situations and people in isolation: it all came together for one purpose, the betterment of the human condition.
In the end, even with the help of NASA and all those who helped; it comes down to the leadership of the men in charge of the mine. They did not try a single approach, no these men took no chances and tried three different ways to reach them. This one we’re experiencing tonight is what they called “plan B”.
Watching the men prepare to go down the shaft for the first time – delayed by a couple of hours to make sure everything was right – he still checked the oxygen bottled, the regulators, the valves, the mask. Everything had to be right. The rescue leaders had back ups for their back ups; and they got it right the first time.
Men, individual men, both in the mine and in the rescue team gave their all to make this happen. They truly did not leave a stone unturned to make this a successful rescue.
The most telling sign of how they felt down in the mine was when the second man, Mario Sepúlveda, came up, hugged his wife, and then hugged the mine officials and the rescue team leaders. He was not angry. He did not hold a grudge. He did not make it seem he felt imposed upon. No, he stood like a true man. He stood proud. He showed emotion as he hugged the Chilean President, Sebastian Pinera and then went on to lead a cheer. These are men who did not quit, and did not give up their hope.
Pinera said, “We have learned from this accident that unity, faith, hope and courage can achieve all the goals that we can set for our country.”
I would add to his lessons learned one thing, charity: Charity of prayers, of support, of help, of encouragement and of time by the family members who were by the mine all those days.
The first man was one of the youngest at 31 years of age, Florencio Avalos. He took the first and likely the scariest of trips for the miners. But I think of the man who became the leader of the group, Luis Urzúa “Don Lucho” a topographer and shift leader, will be the 33rd miner to ride up the capsule to freedom.
Leaders are not the men who shout from mountain tops “follow me”, leaders are people like Luis Urzúa who quietly set the example, set the goals, set the direction for themselves and simply let others chose to follow by the courage of their convictions. In going last, Luis Urzúa, also makes a statement, without saying anything: “I’ll make sure everyone is safe before I go to safety”. A true leader! A leader not by position but by fact.
Congratulations Chile; you taught the world a wonderful lesson!
The Lee’s Summit Conservative.
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