The Song: "Into the Fire," Bruce Springsteen. Words & music by Bruce Springsteen. Track 2 of The Rising, 2002.
When/how acquired: Purchased CD, 2002.
On my flight back to Portland over the weekend, I had the privilege of sharing my seat with Banks, a seven-year-old black Lab who works for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He and his handler were on their way to a kennel outside Portland for a week's R&R, having recently returned from Japan. His handler said that Japan had been worse than Haiti, although the destruction in Haiti had been worse, because "at least in Haiti some of the people we found were alive." She's been doing this work since the Oklahoma City bombing, in 1995.
Banks let me pet him, and licked my hand, but looked at me with eyes that have seen things I hope I never see. He is so good at his job that he's coming up here for breeding purposes, in hopes of making more puppies that will search for victims, and save them if they can.
This world has heroes, and not all of them are human.
I am sitting here much later than I'd expected to be up, watching the celebrations after the announcement of Osama bin Laden's death. This is not a death that brings anyone back. It might even lead to more deaths, if bin Laden's followers decide to retaliate. I have a nephew serving on an Air Force base in Japan and a father who's about to fly out to a Navy supply ship in the Mediterranean on Wednesday. They're not safer today than they were yesterday.
And yet I'm grateful, and I'm astonished, and relieved in a way I can't explain. Brave, brave men went into that compound in Pakistan and did what was necessary. So many people have died, over the past 10 years, to get to that one firefight, and I am grateful to them all.
All of us Americans need to live in a way that deserves such courage, such dedication. All of us people do.