Thursday of the Second Week of Easter
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The one who comes from above is above all. The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things. But the one who comes from heaven is above all.
Jesus Christ is Lord of all. Those who accept Him accept everything He ever said and did. They also accept that it is all worth dying for. Those who accept Him not only accept that He is above all, but that He is also below all as well.
Today, Captain Emil Kapaun, who served in WWII and the Korean conflict, will receive the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest award for valor in the U.S. military. Family and friends of Kapaun will be gathering at the White House to receive the medal in his name. Some of his buddies, who insisted on him receiving the medal and are now in their late 80’s, will be there to witness the whole spectacular event. President Obama will personally award the medal to Ray Kapaun, a family relative.
So what exactly did Captain Emil do? After all, he never carried a rifle and never fired a shot, and yet he saved the lives of hundreds of his buddies.
According to a news article, “Kapaun volunteered to go to Korea. Three months after arriving in Korea, he was awarded the Bronze Star for valor for running through enemy fire to carry wounded soldiers to safety. In November 1950, his unit went on the move. But Kapaun stayed behind to minister to wounded soldiers, knowing he was putting himself in danger of capture by the enemy.
This is exactly what happened.
North Korean and Chinese troops marched Kapaun and the other captured troops in the bitter winter weather. When Chinese soldiers tried to kill wounded POW’s who were slowing the march, Kapaun risked his own life to stop them. In fact, he once put himself between the barrel of a Chinese soldier’s rifle and a wounded American. Miraculously, the Chinese soldier walked away.
Kapaun was imprisoned with two hundred soldiers at a camp in North Korea. While there, he would sneak through the camp ministering to other prisoners. One soldier testified saying, ‘He would come around, saying hot coffee and give hot water to all of us. That may not sound like much, but it sure meant a lot under those circumstances.’ That earned him the nickname “The Good Thief.”
One night the North Koreans took him away. A fight broke out to try to stop them, but Kapaun was taken away and never seen again. He died on May 23, 1951. His body was buried in a mass grave, where it remains to this day.
Over the years, soldiers who knew Capt. Kapaun insisted that he deserved the Medal of Honor. They never rested, just like their fallen hero.
Today, 60 years later, their wish will finally come true.
Kapaun was a soldier, but above all, he was a Roman Catholic priest. The only weapons he ever carried were his love of God "above all things" and his love of others above himself.
Father Kapaun, pray for us, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Resolution: I will try to place God above all things and love of others above myself.