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David Huebner Blog - In Remembrance And Solidarity

[Original at http://blogs.newzealand.usembassy.gov/ambassador/]

In Remembrance And Solidarity

November 24, 2010

Like the rest of the country, I have watched events unfold at Pike River, and have hoped and prayed for the safe return of the 29 men still in the mine. Like the rest of the country, my heart sank when I received word this afternoon of the second blast in the tunnel.

I cannot presume to imagine what the miners’ families, co-workers, and neighbors are now feeling, when hope appears at an end. I have never experienced the loss of a loved one so abruptly or capriciously. I have never endured the uncertainty of not knowing whether a son or brother or father or spouse was alive or dead. I don’t know what words could possibly console someone experiencing such tragedy. I don’t believe such words actually exist.

What I do know, though, is the power and comfort of community. I was born and raised in a tight-knit family in a small coal-mining town. My grandfather worked in the mines after he emigrated from Germany. I have always carried with me — including to New Zealand — pieces of anthracite to remind me of the staunch fiber, true grit, and warm spirit of the small but special speck on the map that I still consider home. A place not unlike Greymouth.

I learned back home that words often fail, but that words aren’t what’s important. Action and presence are what matter. Family and friends do everything humanly possible. And if that fails, they remain at your side. There is great power and comfort, I believe, in knowing that they’re there, and that they share at least some of your pain.

We here at the Embassy deeply feel the frustration, pain, and loss in Greymouth. Efforts failed. Words are inadequate. But know that your friends remain at your side. With the rest of New Zealand, we will lower our flags at the Embassy, my Residence, and the Consulate to half mast tomorrow and Friday, in remembrance and solidarity.


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