A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.
As you may remember I am a faithful member of the Bulldog Nation.
Win or lose, I am a bulldog.
That’s what we call a fan…
a person who is there in both the good winning times…
as well as the bad losing times…
And might I add that this Bulldog season is proving to be a challenging one,
but remain a fan I do, none the less.
It’s what we do as fans, we cry for joy and we cry in defeat..
We celebrate and cry…
or we cry while dusting ourselves off as we roll up our sleeves…
all in order to ready ourselves as we do it all over again, and again and again…
Maybe the American populace needs to be reminded of the life of a fan.
But I digress…
Today’s story is about a fan,
a fan who became a hero.
A hero by definition is:
1.a person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements,
or noble qualities.
And before all the women out there cry foul, the woman version would be heroine…
but today we looking at a hero…so hold thy wrath…
I am hard pressed these recent days, as I survey this great land of ours,
casting my sight while I seek a hero or heroine…
Heroes are not our political leaders…a far far cry.
Nor are they our sports stars…
They are not our entertainers nor are they our news personnel.
They are the quiet ones among us.
They don’t march, rally or protest.
They don’t scream or yell at others.
They don’t name call or throw insults.
or even stones…
They square their shoulders and tuck their heads as they trudge forward doing what is expected.
They don’t question,
they don’t argue,
they don’t whine,
they don’t demand do overs
They don’t harbor bitterness,
they don’t disregard their fellow man or woman
and they don’t seek accolades, applause or recognition…
Clemson University’s William Funchess, age 89, is an example of both a fan and a hero…
In 1944, while America was embroiled in the throws of WWII, Funchess entered Clemson
at the tender age of 16.
He graduated four years later from his beloved Clemson, which at the time was a male military college.
He was commissioned as an officer, 1st Lt. in the United States Army.
Funchess was sent to Korea to join American forces who now found themselves fighting yet another war.
After a harrowing clash between Chinese forces, Funchess, who had been shot through the foot
and having lost his entire unit to either battle or capture, was taken prisoner of war…
His unit had been told to hold their position, so they hunkered down to defend the area which in turn allowed 700 fellow soldiers to retreat.
Yet his unit paid the ultimate price for standing their ground.
Funchess shot by a machine gun, was captured, beaten, starved, tortured, humiliated
and held for an endless 34 months by Chinese forces…two months shy of three long hellish years.
Almost 3 years cut from life that Lt Funchess would never be able to get back…
Funchess had a young wife back home who did not know whether he was dead or alive…
but it was to this young woman whom Funchess was determined to return.
During his time as a prisoner, Funchess was befriended by a fellow prisoner, Father Emil Kapaun…
an Army chaplain from Kansas.
Fr Kapaun’s tale of complete self sacrifice and bravery is a story unto itself
as the Vatican is currently working to bestow Fr Kapaun with the title of saint.
After 3 months of having to eat snow in order to survive, it was Fr. Kapaun who had
given Funchess his first actual drink of water. And later is was Funchess who would care for
Fr Kapaun and all his physical needs during the devastating illness that would
eventually lead the Chinese to remove Kapaun from the prison,
taking him away to die totally alone.
The story of Lt. Funchess as a solider is sobering.
Yet upon his release, it was his love for Clemson that eventually led him back
to his beloved school where he earned a second degree while
spending the next 30 years working for Clemson.
In 1997 Funchess finally decided to put his war experience to paper, writing about his
time as a prisoner. When he finally put down his pen after filling yellow legal pad after pad,
it was only then that the years of never-ending nightmares…blessedly stopped.
A book was published in 2002 “Korea POW: A Thousand Days of Torment
Both these men remind us what it is to be a hero…
These men, who despite the evils of war and what such can do to the human soul…
demonstrated the ultimate in endurance, selflessness and sacrifice…
as their lives continue to be reflections of everlasting hope…
Please click on the link to read Lt Funchess remarkable story: