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The 2010 Day-In-Day-Out Awards

Every year about this time the Motion Picture Academy makes a major production out of awarding Oscars to the best actors, actresses, supporting staff, movies, music, sound effects, etc. of the movies for this past year. The ceremony goes on for hours and it's pure glitz -- the ultimate in expensive shoes, dresses and jewelry, the ultimate in plunging necklines, bald egos and long speeches -- almost nothing that ordinary folks can relate to. Pardon me if I don't watch (says the fuddy-duddy).

By the time you read this, the Oscars will have been awarded and the fashion police will be reviewing the wardrobes one by one. What we've done here now, for the fifth year in a row, is to give DIDO awards, recognition for ordinary people who provide solid service Day-In-Day-Out to the rest of us. We describe them without naming names because the descriptions include many people, not just one or two.

John Milton (1608-1674) was probably England's greatest poet and political writer. He wrote of love, politics and religion. Some of his deepest writings were produced after he became blind in 1652. But Milton could see what many of us missed. In one of his great works in 1655 he wrote, "They also serve who only stand and wait." And so it is today that we dedicate the 2010 DIDO awards to those who serve by standing and waiting -- day-in and day-out.

MINUTEMAN AWARD. Our Minuteman Award goes to the men and women of the National Guard, Army Reserve, Navy Reserve and Air Force Reserve. Like the Minutemen of our Revolutionary War, these volunteers are trained to bear arms to fight to protect our country "at a minute's notice." A statue of the heroic Minuteman stands near the Concord Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts. Without the Minutemen we wouldn't be a free country today. And we couldn't remain free without our Guard and Reserves. Some will be called and some won't, but they all serve.

ALWAYS READY AWARD. I've never had to call 911 but I know that 24 hours a day, day-in and day-out some well-trained, wide awake individual is standing by at the phone ready to take charge of my emergency. These folks save lives every day with their cool heads and calm responses and we can all sleep well knowing they are ready -- also at a minute's notice.

ENGINE RUNNING AWARD. We can also sleep well knowing that there are crews of Emergency Medical Personnel, all trained and certified emergency responders, waiting by their ambulances and emergency vehicles to load one of us, give us emergency aid on the road and get us to the emergency room in the shortest possible time. They may not be called tonight -- I hope they aren't -- but they're serving 24/7.

BRAVE BRIGADE AWARD. In my city we have the finest volunteer fire department we could possibly have. We have an experienced chief, a brave dedicated crew and they're proud of their brigade. New York City may have longer ladders but they couldn't possibly have better equipment and they couldn't have greater devotion or esprit' de corps. I hope they sleep soundly all night, but if the alarm sounds, I know they will be on the spot.

PROUD BADGE AWARD. There was a sad time in our recent history when men and women who wore badges were reviled by a few who called them "pigs." That was stupid, and happily, those days have passed. The police, the sheriff and deputies and the highway patrol (Troopers) are the guardians who stand watch between us and a few of our dangerous brothers and sisters. Without these lifeguards, it would be scary, even out here in the rural areas. Some are always on patrol. Because of them we are secure.

LAST STOP AWARD. This one may surprise you. The undertakers among us have to be ready on a minute's notice too. Their working hours are whenever they are needed and called. They provide a professional service most of us would not choose, but we will all require. Yes we joke about them just as we joke about lawyers, used car salesmen and politicians, and about all they can do is smile. But they do smile, and when we need them, they're standing by and they get the final DIDO award of 2010.

There are no Leonardo Di Caprios, Brad Pitts, George Clooneys, Matt Damons, Meryl Streeps, Sandra Bullocks or Penelope Cruzes in this DIDO bunch, no fictions, no fairy tales and no Inglorious Basterds. The DIDO bunch is solid if unglamorous, real if ordinary and great if modest. They are standing by and they are serving.