I don't care who you are or what rock you just climbed out from underneath, it was an incredibly emotional point in time when the last miner made his way to civilization tonight at a little after 8:00. I think that it is entirely possible that the scene of him being freed from "The Phoenix" may become a vision that all of us will remember throughout the coming years.
And what a man he was and is! He was the shift foreman for the crew that was buried alive 2,300 feet below the earth's surface. For 19 days, hope was all but gone when would-be rescuers finally "received the message" from this man that all men were healthy and ready to come on out. For the first 19 days, he managed to keep morale up and fear down. It was up to him to set up rations on what little food and liquid they had with them.
Once he was ejected from the rescue shuttle, he was greeted by the Chilean president and many others who had worked tirelessly to bring the miners home safely. The foreman refused to "re-surface" until all of the other 32 miners made their ways to the waiting arms of their loved ones.
I admit that more than a couple of tears flowed down my cheeks as I watched this brave hero move from one person to the next, giving hugs and praise to the ones who helped to make all of this joy possible.
Reporters said that surgeries will be done during the next few days to repair injuries that some of the men sustained. The good news was that the operations would be relatively minor in comparison to what these miners could have been facing. All men required protective eyewear to protect them from blindness as was possible if they went from darkness to lightness quickly. The ultraviolet rays would have done irrepairable damage. All of these miners were sent directly to the hospital where they would be thoroughly examined. It is believed that several of these men will be released back to the "custody" of their loved ones sometime tomorrow. What a miracle!!! Through God's Grace, every last of these men have survived. Some lost up to 20 pounds during the 69 days that they were trapped underground. One man's daughter was delivered in September without him standing beside his wife. One thing that has definitely changed for each and every one of these 33 people, is the fact that they should never again take life for granted. I have a feeling that all of these men found God where they never thought that he would be--a half of a mile below the earth's surface...