As I sat glued to my radio in horror and frustration at the devastation that was taking place at the library, I recalled the sad fact that libraries are always at the bottom of everyone's agenda until they burn down. An earlier commitment by the city could have prevented this tragic loss.
And yet, one inspiring picture emerged--that of 260 firefighters fighting an heroic battle to save the historic building and its irreplaceable contents.
I was filled with admiration and awe for the spirit that could motivate those men to risk exhaustion, serious injury, pain and even death to save something in which they had no personal investment.
Sadly, in the eyes of too many children and adults alike, this "every day" flesh-and-blood type of heroism, based on selfless dedication and true courage, takes a back seat to "Rambo" type "heroes" whose function is not to save, but to destroy.
When the library has picked up the pieces and starts to rebuild its collection, perhaps the folk-hero section could include a few books on the real-life heroes of the Los Angeles Fire Department.