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Statue would honor Kapaun

Staff writer

A bill to create a memorial to Chaplain Emil Kapaun will be heard today by the Kansas Senate’s Committee on Federal and State Affairs.

“I’m planning to be there,” Harriet Bina, tour guide and curator of the Father Kapaun Museum, said. “The way I understood, they are voting whether to put it at the Capital.”

Kapaun’s Congressional Medal of Honor, kept in the museum at Pilsen, will be taken to the hearing, Bina said.

She believes a memorial for Father cause for sainthood.

“The more recognition Father gets, the more he is placed in front of Rome,” Bina said.

Senator Rick Wilborn, who represented Marion County before reapportionment, is one of three original sponsors of the bill.

Senate Bill 431 would require the Capitol Preservation Committee to approve plans to place a memorial honoring Kapaun’s life.

The bill would authorize the secretary of administration to receive grants, gifts, and contributions toward the memorial and remit the money to the state treasurer.

The bill would direct the state treasurer to establish an Emil Joseph Kapaun memorial fund.

State money would not be used to build the memorial.

The bill has caught the eye of former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who advocated for Father Kapaun to posthumously receive the Medal of Honor, which was awarded in 2013.

“Father Kapaun was an exemplary and heroic man, a courageous servant of God to his last day, who never wavered in his commitment to bring the light of God’s grace into even the darkest places,” Pompeo said in a written statement. “In the Korean War, with his battalion facing encirclement by the enemy, he ventured forth into the battlefield to retrieve the wounded and comfort those who were suffering.

“As a prisoner of war, Father Kapaun inspired his fellow soldiers with acts of true bravery and utter selflessness. He spread his own meager rations among the other prisoners to ensure they retained their strength and health.”

Pompeo said it should be a great pride to every Kansan that Kapaun came from the Sunflower State.

“I hope the current efforts to establish a memorial to his life and deeds in the form of a statue at the statehouse in Topeka proceed,” Pompeo said. “There is no Kansan more worthy of this honor.”

Last modified Feb. 14, 2024

 

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