"What inspired me? Just a life-long goal," said Texas Ranger Tony Arnold.
"I was pretty far along into my career by the time I got into the Rangers," said Ranger Dusty McCord.
Tony Arnold looks young, but he has years of experience -- over eight as a trooper with the highway patrol, another six and a half in narcotics. He became a Ranger in October of 2001, and the intensity of the work is everything he thought it would be.
"To give you an idea, this is just off the top of my head. I've got two murder investigations -- one's a year and a half old, and one's six years-old, an aggravated sexual assault investigation that's six years-old. Just recently, worked on a couple of burglaries, aggravated assault. All these are cases that we're actively working on, so there's never really a dull day," he said.
"Most civilians are not going to go out and buy a .223 type of rifle for anything other than shooting humans," McCord explained to a district attorney.
McCord has been a Ranger for seven years. Prior to wearing the silver star, he spent four and a half years on the highway patrol, 13 in narcotics.
"We still exist for a very specific reason. We are there to assist the local agencies to bring the resources of the Department of Public Safety and the state to the local level," he said.
"Something that a lot of people don't understand is that when the Rangers get involved, we're not out to show that someone committed a crime, we're out to collect the facts," said McCord.
But sometimes gathering those facts can be difficult. Local law enforcement are often intimidated by the power of the Rangers. Fighting belligerence is part of the job.
"Many times, egos are the biggest impediment to us doing good and efficient law enforcement work. We're not looking for some sort of aggrandizement for what we're doing. We're looking to provide assistance to those agencies and to provide a good work product to the people of the state of Texas," said McCord.
And for 180 years, the Rangers have been doing that job with Texas flair. Cowboy hats and boots are a required part of the uniform.
"Basically, it has to be western attire," said Arnold. "You have to wear boots, you have to wear a hat -- felt in the winter, straw in the summer. The only thing the department issues you is your sidearm and your badge," said Arnold.
Keeping that image of the "Old West" alive conveys a determined yet humble strength. The white hat relentlessly pursuing the truth, the men underneath it bound by history and tradition.
"With that tradition, there's a responsibility," said McCord. "And you want to continue to do a good job in what you do. And that's why we still exist," he said.
So for all you future Rangers out there, here's what it takes to become a Ranger:
As of today, there are about 110 Rangers for the entire state of Texas. Good luck.