SULLIVAN’S ISLAND—Maj. Gen. James E. Livingston, recipient of three purple hearts and the Congressional Medal of Honor, praised the Knights of Columbus for their service to country and community.
“You gentlemen represent one of those beacons of hope, of leadership by example,” he said.
Livingston told The Miscellany that the Knights and members of the military have many similarities. They understand commitment and the need to serve, he said. They want to do right for their fellow man and to make life better for folks at the end of each day.
The major general, who lives in Mount Pleasant, spoke at the inaugural meeting of Knights Assembly 3243 on Sullivan’s Island. He charged those present with continuing the fight to represent their faith and defend Christian values against a secular world.
Many of the assembly members are also military veterans, some from as far back as World War II, said Neil Whitman, faithful scribe. An assembly consists of fourth degree Knights and is the patriotic arm of the organization.
Mike Swindle, faithful navigator, also served in Vietnam. He said they are devoted to veterans’ affairs and recently contributed to homeless vets in the area.
It is these ties that led the members to choose Father Vincent Robert Capodanno as their namesake.
Father Capodanno was a U.S. Navy chaplain assigned to a Marine division in Vietnam. He was killed while attending the wounded, received the Medal of Honor posthumously, and is under consideration for sainthood.
Livingston recalled being a young man in the Marine Corps and hearing stories about the priest and how much he helped soldiers find comfort and closure.
“When young marines were dying on the battlefield, the last face they would see that day is the face of Father Capodanno, and that is a very special calling,” Livingston said.
Whitman said he thought it appropriate to have a Medal of Honor recipient open the meeting as a sign of respect to the heroic chaplain and the veterans present.
Livingston’s citation notes that he risked his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as commanding officer. He said that particular battle was to preserve a crucial supply line, and the loss of it could have changed the outcome of the war. Of 180 men who fought, only 30 walked away. Livingston said he was honored to be associated with such outstanding young men.
He said it was also an honor to know so many men of faith during his years in the military, especially the chaplains, and said there is no greater calling. Livingston thanked the Knights for continuing to answer that call in their communities.
“I have such a great fondness for all those men who serve and serve and serve,” he said.