- The Washington Times - Friday, April 28, 2006

Noble: The”Milkshake Man,” honored at Walter Reed Army Medical Center this month for unparalleled service to wounded veterans.

Since 2003, Jim Mayer has made no fewer than 480 trips to Walter Reed to bring milkshakes, jokes and a sympathetic ear to hundreds of wounded veterans recuperating there. The work is voluntary.

“I’ll never forget,” one Army amputee told Walter Reed’s weekly Stripe recently. “My family was gone for the night, I’m laying in the room, at 10:00 at night. It’s sometimes lonely, you’re feeling sorry for yourself and then suddenly Jim shows up with a big smile on his face and a joke that’s really not funny, but you laugh anyway. And he gives you a milkshake.”

Some vets credit Mr. Mayer with helping show them how to navigate an often complicated thicket of Defense Department and Veterans Affairs programs. Mr. Mayer should know: He lost both his legs to a land mine in Vietnam. “Most people don’t realize Jim is a double amputee right away and then when they do ? we look at him and go, ‘If this guy can do it, we can do it,’” the same vet said. It also helps that Mr. Mayer works for the VA’s Office of Seamless Transition, which helps veterans returning from Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere take advantage of VA benefits.

It took a surprise ceremony on April 12 to award him the Commander’s Award for Public Service, one of the highest honors the Army can bestow upon private citizens. It was well deserved.

For going far beyond the call of duty, Jim Mayer is the Noble of the Week.

Knaves: The Spanish Socialist Party, which compared the mentally retarded to apes while monkeying around with the definition of human rights.

On Thursday, Spain’s Socialists announced plans to introduce a bill in the Congress of Deputies requiring “the immediate inclusion of simians in the category of persons.” The law’s passage would ensure that apes, monkeys and other cousins to man “be given the moral and legal protection that currently are only enjoyed by human beings,” the Spain Herald reported. The bill doesn’t say whether 35-hour workweeks, college tuition or two-month vacations in the Pyrenees are part of the deal. But it does assert that apes’ interests should be regarded as “the same as those of minors and the mentally handicapped of our species.”

Has someone taken “Planet of the Apes” too seriously? Gorillas and chimpanzees are noble and intelligent creatures, but they’re just that: creatures.

About the best to be said of Spain’s Socialists is that their ostensible bid to promote “animal rights” blinds them to the cheapness and falsity of any comparison between the mentally disabled and primates. For taking the “human” out of “human rights” and insulting the mentally retarded, Spain’s Socialists are the Knaves of the Week.

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