To go where no man had gone before, to enter into the dark unknown, to elevate the health and welfare of others above themselves. All these describe Manuel Gonzalez who volunteered to be the first rescuer lowered down the narrow rescue shaft drilled through 2100 feet of earth in order to save 33 miners trapped underground for more than 60 days.
His courage is a reflection of heaven on earth.
“Greater love has no man than this, that a man gives up his life for his friends.” John 15:13
For his courage and faith and his willingness to risk his own life to save others Manuel Gonzalez is this week’s Golden Eagle Award Winner
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.