- The Washington Times - Friday, December 12, 2003

Nobles: Army Spc. James Ross, for saving his friends from a suicide bomber.

There is no right time to fire one’s first shot in combat. Yet the moment to be a hero can come at any time. For Spc. Ross, those instants converged at 5 a.m. Iraqi time last Tuesday morning. He had just started his morning shift in the second story of a guard tower outside of an Army barracks in Talafar, Iraq (near Mosul), when he was startled by a hatchback headed straight at him.

Before it even hit the barbed wire around the base, Spc. Ross started firing his machine gun at it. As the car screeched through a series of obstacles in front of the base, he loosed about 100 rounds. Seconds later, and less than 30 feet from the entrance, the car stopped. Then it exploded.

The blast — caused by 1,000 pounds of explosives — blew out windows a mile from the blast site and threw Spc. Ross across the tower. However, Spc. Ross wasn’t scratched. Of the hundreds of soldiers in the barracks, only 58 were wounded — most of them lightly.

Many of them later thanked Spc. Ross for saving their lives. Like many heroes before him, Spc. Ross said he was simply doing his job. He will probably be doing it for a while. The 23-year-old, who hails from Boone County, Ky., recently re-enlisted.

For his timely trigger finger, Spc. Ross is the Noble of the week.

Knaves: Mark Denison, thief of the Christmas spirit.

The grinch of sensitivity has already stolen the spirit of Christmas from too many public places. This season, Mr. Denison, a music teacher at an elementary school near Tacoma, Wash., managed to steal the word itself from his students. For a holiday concert, he changed the lyrics of Dale Wood’s “Carol in an Irish Cabin,” from “The harsh wind blows down from the mountains, and blows a white Christmas to me,” to “blows a white winter to me.”

That decision outraged Darla Dowell, who had a 7-year-old daughter in the choir. She pulled her child from the concert and complained to Mr. Denison. She pointed out that at the concert, the children even sang Hanukkah tunes. Moreover, school policies allow concerts to mix songs of the sacred and the secular.

However, Mr. Denison reacted by blaming his students. He told the press that the class had voted to keep the Christmas lyrics out of the carol. Even worse, the principal and the school board backed Mr. Denison’s decision to put the onus on his pint-sized charges. They have made no attempt, and apparently have no plans, to change the situation.

On the “Hannity & Colmes” show last Thursday night, even host Alan Colmes called the situation “absurd political correctness gone amuck.” For out-grinching the Grinch (who, after all, eventually returned what he took), Mr. Denison is the Knave of the week.

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