Tragedy in West Virginia

Anyone who has been following the news is aware that 13 miners were trapped in a coal mine after an explosion on Monday. Last night, just around midnight, it was announced that 12 of them had been found — alive.

It seemed like a miracle. The atmosphere down there was poisoned with carbon monoxide, and the miners’ protective equipment wasn’t supposed to last for the 41 hours that they were down there. Given this heartening news, I thought about writing something this morning about the importance of not giving up hope.

Instead, during the night, the miscommunication from the rescue team was corrected: it was not the sole casualty who was the exception, but the sole survivor. I don’t think you can hear a story like this and not feel it. You can’t help but feel for the families who went through over a day of agony waiting for word, then rejoicing, and then suddenly see light turn to darkness.

I don’t think it’s fair to blame the media or anyone on this one. It was apparently a miscommunication from the rescue team — who would have corrected it? The team on the surface sent for multiple ambulances, meaning everyone from the governor on down believed it was true.

What I did like seeing (via CBS news video) was the governor, Joe Manchin, not looking like a politician. He looked as stricken as everyone else. Anyone who heard the tapes of earlier eras in radio (the one in my mind is the Hindenberg catching fire) knows that announcers used to let their emotions show — today, they report that the evening was gut-wrenching, but you don’t see or hear it in their faces or voices. Politicians are supposed to keep a stiff upper lip also — and Manchin, it seems, felt the families’ pain so deeply that he couldn’t do it. I think that’s a far greater comfort to the families and the community than the alternative. We need more leaders like that.

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5 Responses

  1. David Gerstman says:

    1) My wife said that according to one report apparently Gov Manchin has/had family members who are miners. That would probably explain his sincerity.
    2) Unless I am very wrong, the initial reports out of Munich in 1972 had it that all the Israeli athletes at the airport had been rescued. I can understand how bitter the families must feel. But I suppose that cruel miscommunictionscan be a hazard in any high tension situation.

  2. Rishona says:

    Thank you for talking about this on Cross-Currents. I lived in WV during my college years,
    and it’s a very sad situation even when tragedies like this don’t occur.

  3. T.F. says:

    It was his uncle who was killed in this incident, But this brings a good argument whether
    it is ‘poitically correct’ to show emotion when one is in a position of leadership. ……..

    ……”Three hours later, Hatfield told the families that “there had been a lack of communication, that what we were told was wrong and that only one survived,” said John Groves, whose brother Jerry Groves was one of the trapped miners.

    “There was no apology. There was no nothing. It was immediately out the door,” said Nick Helms, son of miner Terry Helms.

    Chaos broke out in the church and a fight started. About a dozen state troopers and a SWAT team were positioned along the road near the church because police were concerned about violence. Witnesses said one man had to be wrestled to the ground when he lunged for mining officials.” – Associated Press

    ……..emotions WERE running high at the moment (without any asistance) with people
    involved seething with anger..and due to the media attention that this high profile case is
    receiving, every move on the defenses part is being analyzed and to apologize would inadvertantly
    promoting further legal actions, (citing that there was a recognition on the defenses part
    that the grounds were rendered unsafe…etc. perhaps after all…it IS “politically correct”
    to show no emotion .

  4. T.F. says:

    Tzu shtel…..
    “The Reagan administration’s relationship with Israel was less unequivocal. The president and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin didn’t get along very well, apparently a matter more of personalities clashing than of dislike. The president’s informality and Begin’s reserve were often at odds.”
    I would conclude that emotional restraint is just a formality.

  5. sharon says:

    My heart goes out to the familes of W.Va who lost their family members. I watch the news from the begining of the explosion to the devastating end. I as millions of Americans are very upset. I prayed for the miners to found alive, and to return home to their families. When it came on the news that 12 were found alive , I cried tears of joy for those families. Having lived in W.Va for 8 yrs myself, i felt close to the families and the miners. But 3 hours later they come back and tell the world, they messed up and 12 miners died, I dont understand how they can do people that way , maybe they think cause its a small state , that it will go unlooked at. But , I will tell you West Virginians are good people . They treat you as family, like their own. My My heart and prayers goes out to people of W.Va. God Bless

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