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The Saga of the Four Chaplains

Jan 14, 2019

The Saga of the Four Chaplains

It was known as Torpedo Junction, the U-boat infested icy waters of the North Atlantic during World War Il. On February 3, 1943, the USAT DORCHESTER, an old coastal steamer quickly pressed into military service, was slowly making her way through those waters bound for Greenland.

An enemy submarine, stalking the ship undetected, fired a torpedo toward the ship's aging flank making a direct hit in the engine room. Taking on water rapidly, the ship began listing to starboard. The four Chaplains calmed frightened men, got them into the spare lifejackets, and urged them over the side.

When last seen, they were standing together on the deck leading men in prayer. With arms linked in friendship and heads bowed in prayer, they sank beneath. The self-sacrifice of the four chaplains was a heroic act aboard the Dorchester, but it was the identity of those four young men representing three great faiths of the American people that add symbolism to their sacrifice.

It is our charge to see that brief, but significant, portion of American history is not lost, and that the lessons of cooperation and selfless service are proclaimed. If you have not attended a Four Chaplains Memorial Sericea, you owe it to yourself to see this moving ceremony, find an enactment in your area and attend. None in your area? This ceremony is easy to put together, all the information to facilitate an enactment can be found on the Legion's website by simply entering Four Chaplains Ceremony in the search box, or by visiting fourchaplains.org.