When President Obama Honored Father Kapaun | Roy Wenzl | Catholic World Report
A moment of grace in a town marked by division and backbiting
The Miracle of Father Kapaun, my second book, was off the presses and in our hands on March 26, only 15 days before President Barack Obama handed the Medal of Honor to U.S. Army Chaplain Emil Kapaun’s family at the White House.
That’s crazy good luck, publishing a story just as the president elevates your story subject as a national hero. But it was no surprise to my co-author, Travis Heying, or to me.
We started the story by seemingly sheer coincidence, shortly after the Army revived Father Kapaun’s Medal of Honor investigation after 55 years. We overcame problems with almost no effort. We talked to former prisoners of war and researched Father Kapaun off and on for five years, and every time we ran into one of those problems that kills a complex project, the problem would go away in some weird and wonderful way. This was a story that seemed to be kissed by the angels.
In 2009, as just one example, we bought tickets to fly from our homes in Wichita, Kansas, to Cumberland, Maryland, talk to North Korean prisoner of war camp survivor Bob McGreevy, who had seen some of Father’s prison heroics. We flew even though McGreevy, at the last moment, canceled our interview, saying that talking about the Korean War gave him nightmares.
I didn’t even bother to tell Travis that McGreevy had canceled until shortly before we rolled up outside McGreevy’s house. I knew that our Kapaun Luck, as it might be called, would intervene, as it always did. Sure enough, big, blunt Bob McGreevy stepped out of his house and changed his heart. “Get in here,” he said, uttering a venial-sin swear word. “I’ll talk.”
“I knew you would,” I said.
Good things always happened around Father Kapaun, on battlefields, in the North Korean prison camp, in the worst conditions imaginable.