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True Heroes
by Joseph Branco

January 27, 2005

Ketchikan, Alaska - America loves an underdog. A great comeback story is entertaining to and warmly embraced by the American people. We are all quick to congratulate those individuals who have triumphantly returned to a life of positive personal growth and

jpg Joseph Branco

Joseph Branco & son Wesley
community involvement from bouts with drugs, crime, or other downward spirals. These rebounds are, indeed, occasions to be proud of and celebrated. America is a country built on learning from our mistakes and growing from our experiences, both positive and negative.

But I would like to honor those who I consider "True Heroes". The true hero is not the great comeback story. It is not the individual who changes his evil ways. It is not even the winners of our sports competitions. Though all of these special people are inspiring in their own right, the True Heroes are those young people who make the "right" decisions all along, despite social pressure and the intrigue of mischief. You may have seen these young people I am referring to - the young people that go to school everyday, study hard, tell the truth, work towards their goals, resist drugs and alcohol, contribute to the community, and increase the standard of living in our great city.

When I thought about my definition of True Heroes, I was drawn to the story of the Prodigal's Son. The Prodigal's son is a great Bible story and we all understand its relevance and its message of hope, redemption, and personal growth. But as a young man I was always bothered by one facet of the tale. The good son was basically discredited and dismissed upon the return of the once deviant brother. I always wondered why a story meant to teach a valuable lesson could so blatantly suggest that by staying the course, respectfully following the rules, and working diligently towards a goal could mean nothing in contrast to screwing up and coming back a better person. In my opinion the Bible story seriously undervalues the good son. Today I am here to set the record straight. Good kids are worthy of recognition too.

The young folks who have consistently chosen the high road, despite unrelenting social pressure, serve as examples for our community. I invite you all to join me in congratulating those children who continue to do the right thing, to resist those bad choices we all face in life. When your 15 year old daughter comes home on a Friday night sober, on time, and clearly mindful of her responsibilities beyond mere social events, take the time to say Thank You; because her journey has not been without pressure. As adults we tend to forget just how courageous making the right choices can be.

Ketchikan is fortunate to have so many young people who fit my definition of True Heroes. These brave kids prove that personal integrity, moral conscience, and social responsibility will continue to define the future generations of our community. Thank you all for contributing to the greatness of our society. Your sacrifices and contributions are conspicuous.


Jospeh Branco ©2005
All Rights Reserved

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