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Editorial Roundup: Kansas


Topeka Capital-Journal. March 30, 2024.

Editorial: Father Emil Kapaun showed the best Kansans can be with his dedication and sacrifice

You don’t have to be Catholic to appreciate Father Emil Kapaun and his legacy.

Kapaun was a Catholic priest and U.S. Army chaplain from Kansas who died in the Korean War. Born in Pilsen in 1916, he was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest by the Diocese of Wichita in 1940. He was a captain in the U.S. Army, serving as a chaplain in World War II and the Korean War.

He was captured in Korea and died as a prisoner of war in 1951. He was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously and is the most highly decorated chaplain in Army history. He is also a candidate for sainthood with the Catholic Church.

We along with our Catholic neighbors and friends hope he might one day be called a saint — the first from Kansas.

He’s a great example of valor, of sacrifice, of faith. We’re proud to call him a fellow Kansan.

He’ll now be honored with a permanent memorial at the Kansas Statehouse.

The Topeka Capital-Journal’s Jason Alatidd reports Gov. Laura Kelly on Friday signedSenate Bill 431 after it passed the Legislature unanimously. The new law directs the Capitol Preservation Committee to establish a permanent memorial honoring Kapaun’s life.

“Chaplain Father Emil Kapaun served his country and his fellow prisoners of war, regardless of their religion or creed,” said Sen. Rick Wilborn, R-McPherson, whose district includes Pilsen, via the governor’s office. “It is only fitting that we honor this native Kansan with an image in our state Capitol where every visitor and public servant may profit by his example.”

Well put, Senator.

The halls of the Statehouse feature some of Kansas’ finest, including President Dwight Eisenhower, Amelia Earhart and William Allen White among them. These individuals are aspirational examples of what we hold dear as Kansans. What we hope to become. What we may yet be. Our values. Our sense of belief. Our shared narratives of common sense, work ethic, friendship and community.

They serve as reminders of the legacy we seek to build upon and the people we serve.

It’s our hope that a memorial of Kapaun will inspire leaders to be selfless, sacrificial and dedicated like he was. That it can inspire others to put service ahead of self. That young Kansans might see it and see themselves in roles that comfort others, help where they can and show love and compassion.