Selfless acts by government officials usually go unheralded in Washington where the public and the press are tough taskmasters. We pulled these stories to remind our readers that their public servants do serve them well:

- Several years ago, someone placed a burning cross on the Washington lawn of a minor embassy functionary from an African nation. The victim was humiliated and his family was frightened. The newspaper accounts caught the attention of a man living not too far away at the Naval Observatory, then-Vice President George Bush. He got the impression that the diplomat's neighbors were not terribly sympathetic.Bush ordered up a convoy of police cars and his own limousine. He sent someone ahead to alert the African diplomat to meet him on the lawn in full view of all the neighbors. Bush arrived, invited the diplomat's children into the limo to play with his dog, and he went inside to chat. He reassured the diplomat that many people would stand by him if he was ever harassed again. There was no press, just enough neighbors to spread the word the U.S. vice president thought an injustice had been done.

- We recently reported on the tragic case of Sgt. Charles Earnest, a Green Beret injured in the crash of an Army Black Hawk helicopter in a training exercise last summer. He lies in a coma at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. Civilian doctors had recommended a course of rehabilitation therapy for his head injury, but the Army had refused, saying it was too expensive and too unproven. Sen. Connie Mack, R-Fla., read the column and called the Pentagon. The Army changed its mind and Earnest will get the treatment.

- A young commander of the Afghanistan resistance is recuperating at home from surgery performed for free in the United States, thanks to Rep. John Porter, R-Ill. It marks the third time that Porter has arranged U.S. medical care for members of the Afghan resistance.

- In 1988, a military doctor, who wants to remain anonymous, reported irregularities in patient care at U.S. military hospitals overseas. For speaking out, he lost promotions and pay raises, but that did not silence him.

The doctor set up a computer data bank where doctors like himself could be linked with others and find legal help. Hundreds of physicians contacted each other through the computer, and the information they shared gave Congress the proof it needed to begin cleaning up military hospitals.

- Children in New Jersey are enjoying the generosity of Sen. Bill Bradley, D-N.J., this year. Bradley won an award from the Max Schmidheiny Foundation in Switzerland for his contributions to international economic thought. Bradley wouldn't accept the $28,500 cash prize and asked that it be given to non-profit groups. Now the gift is funding recreational programs for the Boys and Girls Club of Newark and the Camden Youth Commission.