Have you heard? Snooki is expecting. I would not have been aware of this, if not for a friend alerting me. Before this news flash, I had absolutely no idea what a Snooki was. Come to think of it, I still don’t, but that’s not really relevant to this column. What is relevant is why my friend sent me the e-mail.

It arrived at the end of February. A couple of weeks prior, singer Whitney Houston had died, which was front-page news across the land. Then came Snooki’s news. These events caused my friend to lament America’s obsession with celebrities — or in the case of Snooki, sham celebrities. In his e-mail, he listed the names of 11 Marines who recently had given their lives selflessly in the service of their country. He pointed out that no one, other than their families and close friends, knew their names. All were in their 20s.

I thought about that. He’s right, of course — Americans are ridiculously obsessed with celebrities. But we’re never going to get that genie back in the bottle. So I mulled some more. I thought about how dangerous it is to be a Marine or a sailor, a soldier, a fighter pilot, a border-patrol agent, a police officer, a firefighter — basically, anyone who puts his life on the line to keep America safer and to protect our way of life. Finally, my thoughts came to the new nationwide broadband network for first responders. This made me smile, because this network most assuredly will keep our nation’s true heroes safer.

We have covered this story for six years. It has been suggested to us by many in public safety that no story that we have covered in the past, or will cover in the future, ever will be as important as this one. That’s because this network ultimately will save countless lives that, perhaps, wouldn’t be saved today — both first responders and the citizens they protect — by enabling advanced communications capabilities that aren’t available today.

Now that should be front-page news.

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