Many people have heard tales of knights slaying dragons and rescuing fair maidens in medieval times, but some do not realize that knights still exist.
On Wednesday, 121 Columbians saw a real knight for themselves, when Knight Karl M. Kindt III visited the Columbia Public Library. Kindt, wearing a $5,000 suit of armor, stood tall and still in front of curious children. He later removed his helmet so they could see a real person peering from behind the 16-gauge steel suit. His mission was not to slay an enemy, but to teach children about knights, castles, and the Middle Ages. He also wanted young people to know the true meaning of chivalry.
“There have always been knights on this earth ever since the first knight took his oath a thousand years ago,” Kindt said. “There just aren’t that many of us any more.”
Kindt became a knight in 1995 to honor his late father, Karl M. Kindt II, who was a 21-year-old American machine gunner killed during World War II in Gaheim, Germany.
“My dad had written a wonderful letter before going to World War II, before I was even born ... he knew I was on the way,” Kindt said. “Those words inspired me to grow up to be a person of chivalry.”
Kindt has been named a knight by three Missouri mayors and the mayor of Tonawanda, N.Y.
“Any American citizen can dub a man a knight if he has taken oath (the Ancient Oath of a Knight), has a suit of armor and believes he is a real knight,” Kindt said. “I really treasure the honor of being dubbed a knight.”
Kindt said there are about 212 practicing knights in the world today. British royalty has named no American knight since the people rebelled against King George in 1776 and sought independence. American elected officials can now give someone the title of knight. In the United Kingdom, the king or queen can still bestow an honorary knighthood to those who have made important contributions to their country and Britain.
Kindt shared many knight’s tales with the children. One popular story was about Sir KWAIN (Knight Without an Interesting Name) and Humpty Dumpty.
Sir KWAIN found Humpty Dumpty scrambled on the ground and attempted to put him back together again. Humpty Dumpty told the knight that he would help him find an interesting name if he put him back together, but it was a lie. As a result from his fall, Humpty Dumpty learned valuable lessons: do not dance dangerously on the wall, which caused his fall; and lies will get you anywhere. The young guests also learned that they should not put themselves in dangerous situations and that they should tell the truth.
Kindt also told the children that their very tongues are sharper than his sword and that saying bad things about others will hurt their feelings.
“The role of a knight for children encourages them to think of proper respect for parents and other children,” Kindt said.
Kindt left time in the end for youngsters to ask him questions. They asked Kindt if he had ever visited a castle, saved any princesses or had to buy his weapons and armor. One curious boy asked what color his house was.
Kindt said he has visited several castles; that he had “princesses” in his family; that he bought his own weapons and armor; and that his house was painted brown.
Sarah Howard, the children and youth services coordinator at the Columbia Public Library, said parents and children really enjoyed the program.
“Kids are really into that topic, and there is not much around as far as knights ... everyone loves a fairy tale, so it is good for the girls and boys,” she said.