It seems that it's getting harder to find people and stories to inspire us these days.

With what we're seeing in Washington and in the polls, most elected politicians certainly fall short of our expectations. In the sports and entertainment world, those that we seek to admire for their courage or exceptional talent seem fewer and far between than in previous generations.

Those that are an exception - consistently performing their tasks 24/7 without craving media attention - are this nation's men and women in military service.

Early this month, Cpl. Josh Hargis, an Army Ranger from Cincinnati, was badly wounded when an Afghan woman detonated a suicide vest bomb. That set off 13 other explosive devices, killing four members in Hargis' battalion and wounding 12 other American soldiers.

Josh went through a series of painful surgeries within hours of the suicide bombing and was then placed in a base intensive care unit. Despite the pain and being hooked up to a breathing tube and other medical devices, Josh remained alert and a limited number of persons, including fellow Rangers, were allowed to visit his bedside.

Prior to Josh being moved to Germany for his eventual flight to America, a simple ceremony was conducted in his hospital room to award him with the Purple Heart for the wounds he received. There were about 50 people, mostly fellow Rangers and medical staff, surrounding his bedside to watch his Ranger Regimental Commander pin the Purple Heart to his blanket.

Those in the room thought he was unconscious during the pinning ceremony so no one expected any response from the wounded soldier. Everyone was shocked to see Josh try to move his right arm in an effort to salute the commander, which is part of military protocol during such ceremonies.

A doctor tried to restrain Hargis' arm when he lifted it to salute but his wife Taylor said the medical official had no idea how strong and driven her husband was in order to deliver what Taylor called "the most beautiful salute any person in that room had ever seen."

The emotional scene left those in the hospital unit - among our America's bravest and strongest Americans - speechless and reduced to tears.

Taylor said the salute, which has become an iconic image after going viral on the Internet, shows the courage and strength of Americans. She said she would have cried too if she was in the room.

"I also would have told him how proud I am of him, how proud I am to be his wife, how proud I am of the people he's serving with over in Afghanistan," she stated. "He was just showing what it means to be a warrior and an American soldier. If you want to know the meaning of strong, it's an Army Ranger."

During their D-Day assault at Omaha beach 79 years ago, Colonel Norman Cota asked Major Max Schneider which unit he belonged to. When someone replied that they were 5th Ranger Battalion, Cota replied, "Well, then dammit, Rangers, lead the way!"

Today, all Rangers sound off with the unit motto - "Rangers Lead The Way" - when saluting an officer, to which, that officer responds with, "All The Way!"

Now, nearly eight decades later in another distant battle zone, Cpl. Josh Hargis did the Rangers proud.

By Jim Zbick

editor@tnonline.com