Since the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award was established in 1989, it has often gone to humble, unsung heroes, Caroline Kennedy said yesterday.
''Often the people who receive this award don't really think they've done anything remarkable and don't really think that what they did was courageous; they're just doing a job as they see it. That's one of the things that makes them remarkable," said Kennedy, President Kennedy's daughter and president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.
Winning the award this year were a US Army soldier who blew the whistle on abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the first black woman mayor of Atlanta, and a former Texas state senator who defied his party's redistricting plan. President Viktor Yushchenko of Ukraine received his award during a visit to the United States in April.
Atlanta's mayor, Shirley Franklin, won for showing ''courageous leadership" by raising taxes and cutting the city's payroll when she took office facing an $82 million budget deficit, according to the foundation. One mess she inherited was outdated sewers that would cost billions of dollars to fix, and even staunch supporters warned her of unpopular solutions, such as raising taxes and water rates.
Former senator Bill Ratliff, a onetime lieutenant governor, was honored for being the only Republican lawmaker who publicly objected to his party's 2003 redistricting plan, which critics called divisive and overly partisan. Eleven Democrats fled the state to New Mexico to block a vote on the plan. Then-state Senator Ratliff said he didn't think that he was taking a risk when he opposed the redistricting plan, because his Democratic constituents were behind him and he didn't aspire to higher office.
The foundation also presented a special Profile in Courage award to Army Specialist Joseph Darby, who helped expose the torture of prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison after discovering photos of fellow military police abusing prisoners.
The award, created in 1989, is named after President Kennedy's 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book.