Our view: A fitting tribute to a brave young man

It’s not unusual to find stories about police officers on the front page of a newspaper.

It is when the officer is only 6.

On Tuesday, we brought you the story of Nathan Welby, who was sworn in as the newest honorary Lehman Township police officer Monday night before a packed house at the township municipal building.

Nathan, who was recently diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, always plays cops with his brother, Brian, 8, according to their parents, Jeff and Jennifer Welby.

And so there was no more fitting honor for Nate than to be administered the oath by township Supervisor Dave Sutton, followed by the presentation of a uniform, a badge and patches from several Luzerne County police departments.

State Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Lehman Township, and state Rep. Karen Boback, R-Harveys Lake, then presented Nate with certificates from the state Senate and House of Representatives.

We wish it didn’t have to be this way.

We wish medical science had eliminated cancer long ago, and that Nathan and his family didn’t have to deal with this pain.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 10,590 children in the United States under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer this year.

Brain and central nervous system tumors are the second most common cancers in children, making up about 26 percent of childhood cancers, ACS adds — meaning more than 4,000 brain and spinal cord tumors are diagnosed each year in children and teens.

We pray the professionals at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where Nathan is being treated, can bring hope and comfort to the Welby family in their battle.

We encourage readers to support those organizations engaged in the research and treatment of childhood cancers.

As a community, we also can offer moral support to those around us who are engaged in the fight, as we did this week.

Jennifer and Jeff Welby told reporter Bill O’Boyle they never expected such a turnout for Monday’s ceremony.

“I can’t believe how many people are here,” Jennifer said. “There are a lot of family and friends here and people we never expected.”

A group of people attending wore light blue T-shirts with “Nathan’s Knights” across the front.

In addition to Lehman Township, other departments represented included Lake Silkworth, Idetown, Back Mountain Regional Fire, Harveys Lake, Wilkes-Barre City, Pennsylvania State Police, Factoryville Fire Department and the Luzerne County Correctional Facility. All presented Nate with patches from their respective departments.

A warm round of applause is due to all who turned out — friends, family, law enforcement and lawmakers.

“He really doesn’t understand the seriousness of it all,” Jeff said. “But as far as tonight, I’m sure he loves it. It really is overwhelming.”

We love you too, Nathan.

Stay strong, officer.

— Times Leader