Pundits have been praising Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin
Republican who chairs the House budget committee, for the courage displayed in
his 2012 budget proposal. But their definition of "courage"
must be different from mine.
For some of us, small talk is a land mine. For those of us who are barren, the innocent inquiry, “Do you have children?” is far from small. I used to answer no, but the inevitable, miserable silence that followed led me to change my answer. Now I quickly say, “I have three daughters through God,” and enjoy feeling the broad smile that breaks across my face.
In fifth grade my Little League baseball team lost its first five games. Our coach quit. We got a new coach, a 16-year-old named Don Crosby. Don was a great player and should have been on the high school team, but he hadn’t passed enough classes to be eligible. Today he’d probably be diagnosed as having a learning disability, but back then he was just plain out of luck. Don was only four or five years older than we were, but he easily established his authority with us. He made us run lots of laps around the swing set at the far end of the school yard. He told us we were not to talk when he was talking, and when we answered him, we were to say “Yes sir” and “No sir.”
We will never forget the terror of September 11, but neither will we forget the heroic efforts of the police and firefighters who rushed into the World Trade Center to help people escape. Some of them paid for their courage with their lives. The catastrophes of that day led to extraordinary testimonies of sympathy, generosity and dedication.
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