On September 11th, 2011, John Moore departed Gallup, New Mexico on foot carrying a large wooden cross on his back. Exactly two months later, Veteran’s Day, he arrived at his destination of Pilsen, Kansas.
Per a report in the Catholic Register, the purpose of this unusual march was to focus attention on Father Emil Kapaun, an Army chaplain credited with saving the lives of dozens of U.S. soldiers during the Korean War before dying as a POW captive himself in North Korea.
Ideally, Moore and other supporters of Kapaun‘s legacy would like to see the priest posthumously receive both a Congressional Medal of Honor and sainthood from the Vatican. Although a campaign in support of the latter began several years ago with a dedicated mass ceremony in Pilsen, it is the former that seems most likely. Which begs the question–how did a 61-year-old man from Gallup get caught up in the cause? From Joseph J. Kolb‘s article:
Moore said he became aware of Father Kapaun after reading a small article about the priest in the Knights of Columbus magazine last year and quickly became immersed in the saga of a man who served his country and men in the most deplorable of conditions…
Quick to recognize the efforts of Moore is Hershey Miyamura of Gallup, a Medal of Honor recipient and a former POW. Miyamura, who has read about Father Kapaun, agrees the priest deserves the medal. He also feels Moore‘s efforts go above and beyond the call.
The cross Moore carried was made from an alligator juniper tree from Heber, Arizona and built by a retired Albuquerque firefighter, Mark Chavez. Its design was provided by a fellow POW, the late Gerald Fink.