There are a few classes of people that I just assume are worth a certain basic amount of admiration and respect. I'm not always right, but in those cases I just differentiate between the position and person. For example, I have tremendous respect for the office of the President of The United States, if not necessarily for several of the people who have held that office.
In general I think that anyone who signs up for a job where they're risking their life and limb to save me and mine is deserving of a certain minimal level of respect. Not all of them realize what they're getting into, most of them never have to face that much actual risk, and so far as I know none of them have ever really had to directly intervene on my behalf, but all of that is just a matter of degree, not direction.
I think, in descending order of appreciation, it goes Firemen, Soldier, EMT, and Police. Or maybe Police / EMT - it's close.
Firemen sign up for a job where they frequently risk several of the worst deaths around all to protect not only my saggy bottom but also my probably-should-be-replaced-anyway stereo system. You have to like somebody like that. On top of that, they'll never shoot me (at least in the normal course of things).
Soldiers are more likely to have signed up without thinking things all the way through. They're young and the recruiters are experienced. A good number of them get out without having faced much more than boredom and people you'd rather not sleep in the same room with. Others get to snuggle into some mud far from home while wondering how to tell the many, many people around them are actively trying to kill them from the ones that want to help.
EMTs don't generally face quite as much direct risk as the soldiers and firefighters, but they do deal with a lot of really disgusting and nasty things far more often, and they're more likely to directly save my life (statistically speaking). The one really major car wreck I was involved in (as a small child in the late 60's) they didn't have to do all that much for me, but one of brothers and my mother were in pretty serious shape.
Police do things every day to make my world a better place and face a usually small but definitely measurable chance of being badly injured while doing it. On the other hand, you have to balance upholding the general peace and order with picking me out of a line of cars when they need to meet 'performance standards' (which are, we're assured, not the same thing as quotas). Plus they attract more of those people who want the supposed power of the position. In general the police are the ones most likely to be sent to force me to do something I don't want to, with the soldiers as back up. I live a mainstream enough life that this isn't a big issue but it's something to keep in mind, just like the fact that you vote for a tax means you've said they can come shoot you if you don't want to pay it. But mostly they just keep drunken bozos from causing me grief, which is on my list of good things.
I guess there's no real point to this rant. It's just a place to say: