Memorial Day is a day many in the United States have off. As the nation progressively abandons its Christian founding and soon loses its patriotic spirit, we often forget the meaning behind this important holiday.
My community continues to make a big deal out of the last Monday of May with Mass, taps, flag-raising, and an open house at a VFW post nearby.
The pastor of my parish was the celebrant of a beautiful sacrifice of the Mass. In his homily, he correlated the sacrifice of Jesus with today’s gospel for the option for the Mass on Memorial Day according to John. In it, it was taken from the account during the Last Supper which Jesus preached about love. He says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends” (John 15:13).
He even shared the story of Father Emil Kapuan, an Army chaplain who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Korean War. He would never live to see the day. From the fall of 1950 to the spring of 1951, Father Kapaun would minister to his fellow inmates, regardless of their religious background or rank. He would give whatever food he had to one in need. The communists would despise him heavily.
As his health was declining, the Chinese soldiers escorted the beloved chaplain to a sick room, where he would die on May 21st, 1951. He told one soldier that he was going to where he “was preparing. When I am there, I will pray for all of you.”
His remains were buried with others who weren’t identified due to the lack of technology until 2021 when his remains were identified 70 years following his death. In 2013, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously. The men who survived the ordeal were at hand.
Jesus and Father Kapaun showed us what sacrificial love is about. Both laid down their lives for others. Millions of men and women since the American Revolution have done the same to preserve our inalienable rights. Sadly, we are forgetting this. Our job is to instruct those who are ill-informed and uninformed.
We owe both our lord and Father Kapaun for showing us what sacrificial love means. Let us make sacrifices for others. The main ingredient of love is sacrifice.