For me, the greatest heroes in American public life are firefighters and EMTs. These are people whose job is simply to do whatever they need to do to save lives, no matter whose. They charge into terribly dangerous situations, often almost by reflex, in order to save people. There is no occupation which I consider more admirable -- and there are a lot of admirable occupations out there.
Two Buffalo firefighters died this morning in a fire. The building was a deli in one of Buffalo's poorest neighborhoods. The fire was in the middle of the night, and the two firefighters in question, Lt. Charles 'Chip' McCarthy and Firefighter Jonathan Croom, apparently had the floor collapse from under their feet. Reports are that they were looking for someone whom they thought was trapped in the building.
They died doing what firefighters do: being heroic and almost certainly not even questioning why they were doing it. I'll bet that if you asked them, they'd have shrugged and said, It's what firefighters do..
Bless their souls, forever.