In the line of fire
By d s
1 Nov 2008
Former President Bill Clinton made an appearance at a democratic rally in New Jersey today. I had the opportunity to exchange a few words and shake hands with the most successful U.S. president since World War II.
I also had an up close and personal view of the tireless secret service agents, that co-ordinate and maintain a safe environment for their protectees.
Constantly roving eyes, icy stares, whispering into walkie-talkies, they make sure that every event goes without a hitch.
The United States Secret Service Agency, one of the country's oldest federal investigative law enforcement agencies, was initially founded in 1865 as a branch of the U.S. Treasury Department to combat the counterfeiting of U.S. currency – a serious problem at the time.
Following the 1901 assassination of President William McKinley in Buffalo, New York, the Secret Service was then tasked with its second mission – the protection of the president.
Today, the Secret Service's mission is the protection of the president, vice president and others; and investigations into crimes against the financial infrastructure of the United States.
According to the agency, the demands required of a special agent include working long hours in undesirable conditions on short notice.
The agents wear attire that is appropriate for the surroundings, typically a conservative business suit. They also wear lapel pins of a color and shape that vary regularly due to security reasons. Each design prominently features the service's star emblem in the center.
At the rally, the president rocks the house, as only he can! Upon conclusion of his speech, he reaches into the crowds, much to the chagrin of his secret service agents. Everyone crushes in to shake his hands, the flashbulbs go berserk reaffirming his enduring popularity.
As the presidential motorcade leaves with the president waving out, I mention to one of the agents, "You have a thankless job!"
He smiles and says, "Thanks, I know!"