A shining moment of grace in a divided Capitol

The Miracle of Father Kapaun, my second book, was off the presses and in our hands on March 26, only 15 days before President Barack Obama handed the Medal of Honor to U.S. Army Chaplain Emil Kapaun’s family at the White House.

That’s crazy good luck, publishing a story just as the president elevates your story subject as a national hero. But it was no surprise to my co-author, Travis Heying, or to me.

We started the story by seemingly sheer coincidence, shortly after the Army revived Father Kapaun’s Medal of Honor investigation after 55 years. We overcame problems with almost no effort. We talked to former prisoners of war and researched Father Kapaun off and on for five years, and every time we ran into one of those problems that kills a complex project, the problem would go away in some weird and wonderful way. This was a story that seemed to be kissed by the angels.

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Posthumous Medal of Honor for Korean War Catholic priest

WICHITA, Kan. — A Roman Catholic priest from Kansas will be awarded the nation’s highest military award for bravery for his actions during the Korean War, according to former Kansas Congressman Todd Tiahrt.

Tiahrt told The Wichita Eagle that Emil Kapaun will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama in April. Tiahrt also posted a letter from a Pentagon official on his Facebook page, saying that Kapaun will be honored April 12 at the Pentagon.

Kapaun, a priest from Pilsen, Kan., who died in 1951, has been celebrated for his actions during the Korean War. The Vatican has also classified Kapaun as a Servant of God, a step in the process to sainthood.

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Seen on the web: The critically important role of Catholic priests as U.S. military chaplains

Anonymous writes:

I served 20+ years as an Army Airborne Catholic Chaplain.

In Nam I offered 8-10 Masses just on Sunday; 23 during Christmas week and had 50 troops under instruction.

I held Catholic and Protestant troops in my arms as they were dying and gave absolution to both-the Protestant Chaplain asked me to do this.

On more than one occasion, a Protestant Chaplain said “If you guys go, we’re finished.”

I could tell you many stories of “divine intervention.” By the way, four Catholic Chaplains received the Medal of Honor!

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About the photo:

With a canvas tarpaulin for a church and packing cases for an altar, a Navy chaplain holds mass for Marines at Saipan. The service was held in memory of brave buddies who lost their lives in the initial landings. Photo by Sgt. Steele, June 1944. Source: US Marines