• Last modified 56 days ago (March 28, 2024)


Statehouse statue to honor Kapaun

Staff writer

A bill authorizing the Capitol Preservation Committee to create a statehouse memorial honoring Chaplain Emil J. Kapaun unanimously passed both houses of the legislature and was signed Friday by Governor Laura Kelly.

Harriet Bina of the Kapaun Museum in Pilsen was excited to hear of the bill’s passage.

She said she and her husband, Laverne, attended the first Senate committee meeting on the bill Feb. 14. They took along the Medal of Honor that Kapaun received posthumously in 2013.

Many people spoke in support of the initiative. Among them were Scott Carter, coordinator for the Father Kapaun Guild; Roy Wenzel, retired Wichita Eagle reporter; Marion County commissioner David Mueller; and Hillsboro mayor Lou Thurston.

Bina said Mueller spoke from the heart and did a beautiful job.

“It was very emotional,” she said. “I’m so excited. This is a story that needs to be told worldwide. It touched so many people. It’s a privilege to honor a native Kansan from Pilsen.”

Putting Kapaun’s statue on the Capitol grounds will allow Kansas school teachers to talk about him in their history classes, Bina said.

Fundraising for the privately financed memorial will begin July 1.

A website,, has been set up for people who are interested in tracking progress of the project.

The site states:

“Father Emil J. Kapaun was a humble Catholic priest and courageous Army chaplain who gave his life serving his troops in the Korean War.

“This farm boy from Pilsen, Kansas, was shaped by the soil of the Sunflower state and enabled to bring the light of faith and love to the darkest of places on earth: the battlefields and prison camps of Korea.

“An exemplary model of the courageous and persevering spirit of Kansans, this memorial will honor Father Kapaun at the heart of our great state and ensure his legacy lives on for generations to come.”

Last modified March 28, 2024