Perks You Right Up

Though I know such moods are to be resisted, I've sunk into a bit of a funk about the state of things lately. You don't need the litany, but the last straw was buying a pair of shoes for my son this weekend and seeing a recall notice for a pair of kids' shoes. Recalled because the buckle is a choking hazard. I know I should just laugh, but some days that kind of thing makes me despair of there ever being any grown-ups in this country. People have to be told not to let their kids eat their shoes? They weren't even baby shoes. Lord, take me now....

However, I helped chaperone a tour of our local fire station Monday, and that helped tremendously. Those young men are... well, they're men. Courteous, noble, smart (did you know you have to be good at Math to be a fireman? If you're the guy on the truck directing the water stream, you have to make instantaneous calculations about pressure and flow, based on the length and width of the hoses. They spend a lot of time in the firehouse running formulas), strong (their gear alone weighs 60 lbs, and the equipment they have to carry up many flights of stairs to do high-rise rescues weighs about 100 lbs.) --and they're unabashed in admitting the rush of danger on the job is what attracts them. Being with them was like breathing pure, fresh mountain air.

Along those same lines, I think you'll enjoy this. It's about the effect our soldiers have on embedded reporters --even European reporters. A Spanish reporter talks of being won over by troops:

"Absolutely amazing," said David Beriain, the reporter (and the one who spoke English), said of the young Cavalry troops. "In Spain, it is embarrassing--our soldiers are ashamed to be in the army. These young men--and they seem so young!--are so proud of what they do, and do it so well, even though it is dangerous and they could very easily be killed." [snip]

"I was one of those," admitted Mr. Beriain, speaking broken English and blinking away tears. "No matter what you think of the war, or what has happened here, you cannot be around the soldiers and not be completely affected. They are amazing people, and they represent themselves and the Army better than anyone could ever imagine."