History Book – A nurse executed, and miners freed

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, October 12th. You’re listening to WORLD Radio and we’re so glad you are. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: the WORLD History Book.

Today, remembering two tragedies…and a miracle. Here’s Senior Correspondent Katie Gaultney.

KATIE GAULTNEY, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: We begin today with the story of a World War I British nurse: Edith Cavell. She’s remembered for helping hundreds of Allied soldiers escape from enemy territory in Belgium.

TRAILER: He wants to be set free/ You shall be free.

Her bravery made her the subject of many plays and films, including the 1939 movie, Nurse Edith Cavell.

TRAILER: I have been hiding him. Would you help by taking him across the frontier? 

Before the war, Cavell spent years modernizing the nursing profession as first matron of the Berkendael Institute in Brussels. When Germany occupied Belgium, Cavell joined the Red Cross—and an underground group to help Belgian, French, and British soldiers make safe passage to the Netherlands. But the Germans discovered the effort, accused Cavell of treason and sentenced her to death for “aiding a hostile power.”

Despite cries from around the world for mercy on Cavell’s behalf, a German firing squad executed her on October 12th, 1915—105 years ago today.


Her death shocked the world. Press and politicians alike expressed outrage that she was executed for a charge less than that of espionage.

Today, a statue of Cavell stands in London’s busy Trafalgar Square. Engraved are the words she uttered the night before her execution, read here by actress Judy Dakin in the play Edith Cavell: Facing the Silence.

PLAY: But this I would say, standing as I do in front of God and eternity: I realize that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness toward anyone.

Turning now to another story of sacrifice and loss.

CNN: This is CNN Breaking News, U.S. officials in Bahrain today say suspected suicide bombers/ Cole badly damaged in a terrorist attack in Yemen/ American soldiers were killed, injured, missing…

Twenty years have passed since Muslim militants attacked the USS Cole. On October 12th, 2000—11 months before the 9/11 terrorist attacks—al Qaeda suicide bombers in the Yemeni port of Aden steered their small boat into the side of the naval destroyer. The explosion ripped a 40-foot-wide hole on the ship’s port side—killing 17 sailors. Wounding 39 more.

Sean Taitt was a supply clerk aboard the vessel, doing data entry at the time of the attack. 

TAITT: I was about to hit that enter key. I have no idea if I hit the enter key or not. What I do remember is when I came to, I was smelling JP-5. 

“JP-5” is jet fuel. Six days after the attack, rear Admiral Barry Black, chief of chaplains for the U.S. Navy, spoke at a memorial service for the fallen sailors.

BLACK: Today we are reminded that freedom is not free, and that the price we must sometimes pay is exceedingly high. 

From loss to survival beyond all odds: Tomorrow marks 10 years since the rescue of 33 gold and copper miners near Copiapó, Chile.


Those cheers came after an excruciating wait by the miners’ loved ones. The mine workers were trapped 2,300 feet underground—for 69 days.

It all started on August 5, 2010, when the main shaft of the San Jose gold and copper mine caved in. Seventeen days after the initial collapse, a rescue probe was retrieved with a note attached.

CBS: Relief for the families of 33 miners who have been trapped for more than two weeks. Today, a note reading “All 33 of us are fine” was found tied to a rescue probe.”

Rescuers sent food and supplies. Many of the men were Catholic and requested religious items, like rosaries and Bibles. Relatives prayed almost constantly above ground in a tent city dubbed “Camp Hope.”

One of the miners, José Henríquez, is a devout Christian who kept morale high with spiritual encouragement. He spoke in 2011 to The Christian Institute through a translator. 

HENRIQUEZ: We were singing and praying, and the result is that 22 received the Lord.

With their immediate health secure, recovery plans continued. Rescuers began boring three holes, and after a month, one of the machines reached an accessible chamber. They brought the trapped men out through the shaft, one by one.

Chilean President Sebastián Piñera celebrated by leading an overjoyed crowd of onlookers in the Chilean national anthem.


That’s this week’s WORLD History Book. I’m Katie Gaultney.

(Photo/Associated Press) Chilean miner Jose Henriquez and his wife after being brought to the surface.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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