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October 19, 2008 | Matt Welch, Matt Welch is editor in chief of Reason magazine and author of "McCain: The Myth of a Maverick."
Write a critical book about John McCain, and you will soon become a repository of many colorful rumors. These come in three general flavors: 1) Did you hear about his terrible temper? (The subject did come up, yes.) 2) Did you know he likes the ladies? (Fred Thompson invoked "Marie, the Flame of Florida" at the Republican National Convention, so, yes.) And, most popularly, 3) He wasn't really a hero in Vietnam at all; also, I think they did something funny to his brain there.
September 14, 2008 | Robert J. Lopez, Garrett Therolf and Scott Gold, Times Staff Writers
There was spaghetti on the stove at Fire Station 96 when the loudspeaker crackled. Right before dinner. Typical. "Possible physical rescue," the dispatcher said. In firefighter-speak, it was a run-of-the-mill call that gets the emergency response rolling but usually translates into little more than a car wreck. The voice was cold, detached -- numb from the job, perhaps, but also trained to keep emotion at bay. Los Angeles Fire Capt. Alan Barrios, a brawny, soft-spoken man and a father of three who has been in the business for 32 of his 54 years, climbed aboard his rig with two firefighters and an engineer, his entire engine company.
September 10, 2008 | Jill Zuckman, Chicago Tribune
Military service is perhaps the most powerful theme of John McCain's presidential campaign: Veterans sporting their caps and pins fill the audiences, running mate Sarah Palin cites McCain's prisoner-of-war years in introducing him, and during the recent Republican convention, men draped in medals and ribbons graced the stage while larger-than-life photos of McCain in uniform served as a backdrop. But in presidential politics, military service -- even heroism -- is no guarantee of victory.
April 9, 2008 | James Hohmann, Times Staff Writer
Tears glistening on his face, President Bush posthumously presented the Medal of Honor on Tuesday to a Navy SEAL from Garden Grove who saved the lives of American snipers in Iraq by throwing his body on top of an insurgent's grenade. Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor, 25, died during a firefight on Sept. 29, 2006, in an Al Qaeda-controlled section of Ramadi.
December 14, 2007 | Kevin Thomas, Special to The Times
Andrzej Wajda rose to prominence as one of Poland's most gifted cinematic talents on the strength of his 1955 feature-length debut, "Pokolenie," the first film in a trilogy of World War II-set dramas that explored the plight of the individual in the midst of chaos and questioned conventional notions of heroism.
October 26, 2007 | Peter H. King, Times Staff Writer
As smoke spread from Castaic to the Mexican border, the numbers rolled in -- air tankers, bulldozers and fire crews deployed, acres consumed, residents evacuated, houses destroyed, the precise percentages of containment, the speed of the wind (as opposed to wind gusts), the number of utility customers without electricity, of avocado trees lost, of Red Cross shelters opened and the telephone numbers to reach them. Sometimes these numbers were presented in the aggregate.
September 8, 2007 | Tony Barboza, Times Staff Writer
James Campbell showed up in the uniform of a Los Angeles County firefighter at some of the nation's worst disaster sites, including the World Trade Center and in the devastation following Hurricane Katrina. He flashed a badge as he strode into secured areas to help fight the Esperanza fire in Riverside County last year. He even posed for his driver's license photo wearing a crew cut and his uniform, with his badge on his chest. The trouble is, authorities say, he wasn't a fireman.
August 7, 2007
Re " 'Hero' rings hollow," Opinion, Aug. 3 I have long felt that the term "hero" has become victim of the tendency by politicians to create jingoistic phrases that play well with the public. I was a reserve police officer for 20 years and never felt that just showing up for a work shift was a heroic act. It was simply what I chose to do to as a contribution to the community. The term has become devalued in my view. If everyone is a hero, then no one is.
July 16, 2007 | Jerry Crowe, Times Staff Writer
Perhaps the most dramatic image from the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles did not involve a gold medalist -- or a medalist of any type. It featured an athlete in distress, Gabriele Andersen-Scheiss, whose tortured push to the finish line in the inaugural Olympic women's marathon drew anguished gasps from a crowd of more than 70,000 in the Coliseum but transformed the Swiss runner into an international symbol of courage and determination. Anyone who has seen it probably has never forgotten it.
May 27, 2007 | Cecilia Rasmussen, Times Staff Writer
Manzanar, Calif., May 1942. It's a warm morning at the dusty, inhospitable World War II internment camp on the bleak edge of the Owens Valley. Latino teenager Ralph Lazo arrives by bus to join his Japanese American friends from Belmont High School. Lazo, a 16-year-old Mexican-Irish American, was motivated by loyalty and outrage at the internment of his friends. He became the only known non-spouse, non-Japanese who voluntarily relocated to Manzanar.
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