Let’s just enjoy this while we can. The rescue of the coal miners, that is.
Not only was there the gripping, melodramatic matter of pulling nine people from the all-but-clenched jaws of death, but the timing couldn’t have been more propitious. Not with homeland insecurity, stock market trauma, kidnapped children and Middle East carnage otherwise dominating the news.
The Pennsylvania rescue was much more than a happy ending to a harrowing tale.
The Quecreek Mine drama embodied so much of the human spirit that we so easily take for granted in a world too mindful of mankind’s dark side. These were men who had made up their collective minds to either live or die as a group. Clutching their faith and exercising presence of mind, they literally bundled together for warmth and survival. In the event of death, which loomed likely, the men had written private messages to their families and put them in a lunch pail: a legacy to what matters most.
No less impressive was the fortitude and technological know-how of the rescue workers. It was a dramatic, 77-hour reminder of the ingenuity and can-do ethic that has always been synonymous with the American spirit.
Also associated with America is media overkill. It turns people into public and private property. Andy Warhol talked of 15 minutes of fame. Would-be agents look for far longer shelf life.
Geraldo and Donahue have already had their dibs. Letterman and Leno are lining up. The feeding frenzy for the “Somerset 9” has only begun. There are rights to be secured for a made-for-TV movie. Book scenarios will be in the mix. Endorsements — think the Skoal folks aren’t salivating over this one? — could loom. That’s life, of course, as a commodity.
Not all miner-survivors will be equally photogenic or articulate. Some will have opportunities outside the mines. Others, when their celebrity status wanes, may have to return to their sub-strata culture.
For now, however, let’s just revel with a cause and enjoy this for as long as it is what it is: a celebration of life against some really long odds.