How many of you when hearing the Star-Spangled Banner sung, or sing it with others, get a lump in your throat? Well, I do! I even get teary-eyed; because I think about the many men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country – America. I think of my father who served in the U.S. Army for over 25 years, fought in several wars and almost lost his life – because he was serving our Country. I think about other relatives I never knew, because they died in World War II. And I can’t help but imagine how they all must have felt when they were in the ‘fields’ of war, or what they thought when they were close to facing death. I also think about the many in our country who pray for those serving in the Armed Forces. And for the spouses and families who sacrificed their fathers, mothers, sons, brothers, relatives because they gave their lives for true freedom, for our nation.
I recently learned about a Catholic hero — Father Emil Kapaun, a U.S. Army chaplain who died in a North Korean camp in 1951 and received the Congressional Medal of Honor on April 11, 2013. His cause for canonization is open, and already several cures may have been due to his intercession.
In a homily Kapaun prepared, while he was still a young parish priest, he wrote that if a crisis ever came, a person who wants to help others should imitate Christ. And that’s what Father Kapaun did. He was a parish priest and was called to serve during World War II. A Christian, a priest, a soldier, Father Kapaun offered his life loving and serving others. He wore the Cross, the sign of Christianity, on his military uniform. The Cross is the sign of Christ’s death and resurrection, it is a sign of victory and hope!
As we celebrate our Independence Day on July 4th, these words of the Star-Spangled Banner should remind us that our nation was founded with Christian values:
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Yes, the Stars and Stripes fly in our Flag, but I also think of the Cross, and the many heroes who imitated Christ by helping others.
Some people regard the meek man as one who will not put up a fight for anything but will let others run over him …. In fact from human experience we know that to accomplish anything good a person must make an effort; and making an effort is putting up a fight against the obstacles. – Father Emil Kapaun
Read more about Father Kapaun:
“The Miracle of Father Kapaun: Priest, Soldier, and Korean War Hero” by Roy Wenzl and Travis Hexing