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When I was a kid, I noticed that a lot of people were flying POW/MIA flags. I found this odd because I had been told that all of the POW’s and MIA’s to date had been (or were on their way to being) classified as KIA by the government. I thought that the sign of solidarity for those whose status was unclear (but who were most likely dead) was misplaced and Pollyanna-ish, the stuff of Rambo fantasies and conspiracy garbage. It wasn’t until I was older that I understood that the motivation shown by folks flying the now-ubiquitous black flag was not a display of their own hope, but rather for the sake of the memories of missing themselves; that the awful thing that happened to them in pursuit of freedom would not be left in doubt forever, and that there were still people at home who would not rest until every single man was definitively accounted for. In this way, the forces of evil would not have victory over their memories.  In the end, the brave will find their true home, and the valiant will, at last, have their rest.

Which brings me to the point of this post. There are thousands of unaccounted-for clergy behind the Bamboo Curtain, and one remarkable case of a Catholic “MIA”  bears retelling, if for no other reason than that Holy Mother Church has been keeping solidarity with the memory of Francis Hong-yong Ho for decades. In October, he will celebrate his 102nd birthday, and he is currently be the oldest reigning bishop in the world, if not the entire history of the Church.

The Most Rev. Francis Hong Yong-Ho (born 12 October 1906) was made Vicar Apostolic of P’yong-yang, Korea, by Pius XII in 1944, and ordained Bishop the same year. When the Chi-Cons invaded and installed their puppet, Kim Il-sung (the father of the present butcher in charge of North Korea), Bishop Hong was, first, imprisoned in 1949, and then later disappeared. In solidarity with Korean Catholics suffering under the Red Yoke, Pope Bl. John XXIII errected P’yong-yang as a diocese and named Bishop Hong as its first (and, to date, only) ordinary on 10 March 1962.

The sign of solidarity against the Communist outrage is ongoing. The Pontifical Yearbook continues to list Bishop Hong as Ordinary of P’yong-yang, with a footnote: “(missing)” Bishop Hong has been the bishop of record in P’yong-yang for 46 years and counting.

See also: Wikipedia.

wac

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It sounds corney, but Milton Hershey really did rise from poverty to greatness through determination and hard work. He proved that innovation alone could make one’s enterprise lucrative. He revolutionized chocolate making and built his empire without resorting to cut-throat tactics against the competition.  He entrusted his entire personal fortune to the orphans he cared for in life and ensured that many, many more would be protected after he was gone (creating, incidentally, one of the most, if not the most, well endowed schools in the world.)  He also protected his workers’ interests, building for them a model town that, to this day, is one of the garden spots of the U.S. industrial belt.

Milton Hersey’s corporation is one of the great employers in the world, as well as one of one of the world’s leading corporate citizens.  For example, during World War II, most of the milk chocolate plant’s production was reserved for the making of Hershey’s government contract chocolate.  Hersey had developed a formula for a kind of milk chocolate that wouldn’t melt in extreme heat, something the government desperately wanted in order to supply our soldiers.  Hershey won the government bid without competition (no other chocolate company could produce as much and not be ruined financially, and no other chocolate company could produce the kind of chocolate the government wanted) and turned over the order under budget at a loss to the corporation in order to get the job done.

Eternal Memory!

WAC

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Desmond T. Doss, CPL, United States Army, Pacifist, and Medal of Honor Recipient
17 January 1919 – 23 March 2006

Doss was a devout Seventh-Day Adventist. In accordance with the dictates of his faith, he would not carry a gun, eat meat, or do any kind of work on Saturday. Doss actually had to fight his local draft board for Conscientious Objector status (he preferred the term “Conscientious Cooperator”) in order to join the Army, as the board wanted to grant him a wavier of service due to his peculiar religious practices.

During training, he was ridiculed and threatened by his fellow soldiers. One soldier, disgusted by his refusal to participate in combat training or do any training on Saturday, promised to kill Doss as soon as combat presented the opportunity.

Doss showed his bravery in combat as his unit fought through the Pacific. On May 5th, 1945, (a Saturday,) Doss’ unit was ordered to take an escarpment on Okinawa riddled with fortified machine gun nests. The unit ascended the cliff of the escarpment and immediately came under intense gun fire.

In the course of 12 hours of relentless battle, Doss evacuated 75 or more wounded, lowering them over the cliff to cover one by one. Doss was wounded several times during the action, including a compound fracture of his right arm, but chose to treat himself rather than call another medic from cover. He waited five hours to be evacuated himself. Amazingly, as he was being carried to the rear, he and his rescuers came under attack. Noticing a more severely wounded soldier near by, Doss rolled off of his litter and insisted the litter-bearers take him first.

When President Truman awarded Doss the Medal of Honor, he said “I consider this [awarding you this medal] a greater honor than being President.”

Doss lived out the rest of his life engaged in honest labor, taking care of his wife and family, and traveling the Seventh-Day Adventist Sunday School circuit talking about how faith played a role in his life. He died a little over a year ago.

His life stands as an example of physical and moral courage.

Eternal Memory!

WAC

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Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, CBE, Righteous Among Nations
20th December 1925 – 30th October 1963
R.I.P.

Born in Ireland, a priest of the Holy Office and Vatican Diplomat. During World War II, he ran the network of Vatican spies, anti-fascists, and black marketeers sheltering and providing for escaped POW’s, Jews, and political dissidents. O’Flaherty’s network saved nearly 4,000 combatants and untold thousands of others.

Marked for extermination by the Gestapo, Msgr. O’Flaherty went about Rome in disguise, earning him the nickname “The Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican” in later years. In one celebrated instance, while being hunted by the Gestapo, he donned an SS officer’s uniform and boldly walked into the Nazi-controlled Regina Caeli Prison in order to hear the confession of a dying priest.

Rome Gestapo chief Col. Herbert Kappler sought to have Monsignor killed and engaged in relentless pursuit until the surrender of Rome. Kappler was tried in Italy for war crimes and sentenced to life in prison. Monsignor was his only visitor during those years, month after month. Kappler was received into the Catholic Church by baptism at the hands of O’Flaherty in 1959.

O’Flaherty was made a Commander of the British Empire, awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and received various knighthoods, awards, and gongs for his work, all of which accepted gratefully, but sent to his sister in Ireland to be kept in a drawer. He was also awarded a life pension by the Republic of Italy, but refused to collect it, instead diverting the money for the assistance of the poor.

He was made the subject of several books, a radio play, and a movie, “The Scarlet and the Black” in which he was portrayed by Gregory Peck.

O’Flaherty Retired from the Holy Office in 1960 and lived with his sister in Ireland until his death. He was declared “Righteous Among Nations” by the State of Israel in 2003.

Eternal Memory!

WAC

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HIM Halie Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia

1892-1975

Unsung hero of the 20th century.

Celebrate Prester John!

Eternal Memory!

WAC

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Born in extreme poverty in New Orleans.  Orphaned at a very early age, and received almost no formal education.  Considered the greatest gospel singer in the history of recorded music, she elevated Gospel to an art form.  Made a vow as a child to use her talent solely for the service of God, and never to sing secular music for money.  As her fame grew, her husband/manager divorced her when she refused to accept secular record contracts.  Never remarried, considered the practice unbiblical.  Sold out secular music halls throughout her career singing only gospel music, while still being engaged at churches and other religious venues.  Known for her generosity and philanthropy. 

Mahallia Jackson served God according to her conscious her entire life, and left us with a staggering repertoire of thousands of beautiful songs, every one about the Goodness of Almighty God.

WAC

Someone else died ten years ago this week:

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And just about the time that Sir Elton was finishing up his rewrite of “Candle in the Wind,” and the Bennie Baby people had approved the final specs for the commemorative stuffed Bear, and the home office had decided that it would be okay if the Queen flew the Union Jack from the top of the Palace just this once, in India, a woman who will actually be talked about 500 years hence passed from life. A death which, any other time, would have shook national headlines and commanded the full attention of the media was subsumed by a tsunami of publicity over the untimely demise of a blond almost-was who, despite her pretty face and some good qualities, got in a car driven by a drunk and forgot to buckle up.

To the people of England: I am sorry you lost the mother of your future King.  I appologize if I offend, as I am as much a monarchist as the next American, that is, I am perfectly supportive of monarchy everywhere else but here.  Nevertheless, from a public relations standpoint, Mother Teresa could not have picked a worse time to die.

Or, maybe, that is exactly the way she would have wanted it. 

When the deaths happened, I was 19 and working at Arby’s.  I remember that no one was willing to juxtapose the two lives out of fear of getting lynched, but many commentators came close.  The timing was so odd that the temptation was assuredly there.  They just . . . couldn’t. . . go . . .all . . .the . . .way . . .there.  I figured that I might as well say something.  Hell, it’s been 10 years.  It’s time to get historical.

Who had the bigger impact?  Who led the more note worthy life?  Who are they gonna name churches after (okay, Catholic churches)? 

Who is Elton John gonna rehash a crummy song for?

WAC

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