This morning I read a tweet that the President is going to posthumously award the Medal of Honor, our nation's highest military award, to a priest from Wichita, Kansas who died during the Korean War. Out of curiosity I clicked on the link and read an amazing story of courage and defiance for the sake of the Gospel. The priest's name is Father Emil Kapaun who served as an army chaplain during World War II and the Korean War. He was taken captive in North Korea along with many soldiers and was held as a prisoner of war which is when, as his comrades describe, his real heroism began. An except from today's Wichita Eagle:
Soldiers like Mike Dowe, William Funchess, Robert Wood, Robert McGreevy and Herb Miller, most of them Protestants, have spent decades writing letters or giving interviews describing repeated acts of bravery by Kapaun. They said he repeatedly ran through machine gun fire, dragging wounded soldiers to safety during the first months of the war.
They said his most courageous acts followed in a prisoner of war camp, where Kapaun died in May 1951. They said he saved hundreds of soldiers’ lives using faith and the skills honed on his family’s farm near Pilsen. In the prison camp, he shaped roofing tin into cooking pots so prisoners could boil water, which prevented dysentery. He picked lice off sick prisoners. He stole food from his captors and shared it with his starving comrades. Most of all, Kapaun rallied all of them, as they starved during subzero temperatures, to stay alive. When their future seemed hopeless, he persuaded them to hope. Hundreds died in the camps, but hundreds more survived...
Funchess said on Friday that he first met Kapaun in a prison camp in February 1951. By that time, Funchess had not had a drink of water in three months – he’d eaten snow to stay alive. He came across a bearded scarecrow of a man bending over a fire, which was prohibited by the camp guards. The man was melting snow in a drinking cup and handed it to Funchess. “It tasted great,” Funchess said. “Later, I saw him (Kapaun) crossing a barbed wire fence, sneaking in at great risk to himself to tend sick and wounded enlisted men in a different compound.” In the following months, after guards began abusing Kapaun for defying their brainwashing classes, Funchess, Dowe and others nearly came to blows with Chinese guards, risking their lives to protect Kapaun, who had become sick and was now regularly abused by the guards. “I had greatest admiration and respect for Father Kapaun, and it was indeed agony when the Chinese came and physically removed him from my room, and took him on top of the mountain at the end of the camp,” Funchess said. “I had a pretty good idea what was going to happen. “When I heard he had passed on, I knew it was a great loss, not only to the Catholics in our camp but the non-Catholics. All of us loved Father Kapaun.” Dowe said the Chinese prison camp guards murdered Kapaun in May 1951 by isolating him in a hilltop building where the starving and enfeebled Army chaplain had no way of getting water or food. He said they did so because Kapaun openly defied the camp guards after they tried to brainwash him and other prisoners into denouncing their country. Kapaun also violated camp rules by praying rosaries with other prisoners. By the time he died, other prisoners said, Protestants and men of other beliefs were praying the Catholic rosary with Kapaun and were openly resisting the brainwashing classes.
The Church has indeed started doing its investigations for Father Kapaun's cause of canonization. He risked his life for others during unspeakable torture and led these men in prayer, especially the rosary! How else would you define a saint?
To read the entire article, click here: http://www.kansas.com/2013/02/22/2686937/father-kapaun-to-be-awarded-medal.html