'Those kids'

''Those kids beat the rivers.''

Those kids were the thousands of young people among the volunteers who worked night and day to save their city, Fort Wayne, Ind., from the past week's floods. Their praises were being sounded by their mayor, but they ought to know it doesn't stop there. By getting together and rising to the occasion, they were in an American grain that the whole country can appreciate.

The mayor heard them singing as they passed the sandbags to bolster old and crumbling dikes. We hear something, too:

That young people are a national resource that shouldn't need a disaster to draw the nation's attention.

That when much is expected of them much is delivered.

That just maybe the checking of savage floodwaters is symbolic of their strength for another task - refusing to be swept along by the torrent of cultural and moral barbarism that presents a more insidious threat to their country.

Fort Wayne still has a lot to dig out from, a lot of damage requiring prompt and appropriate disaster aid. But, with no looting, no loss of life or serious injury -- and with ''those kids'' -- it has set an example whose ripples ought to spread long after the waters have gone down.

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