Along the Way – The Four Chaplains Monument

February 3, 1943: Escorted by three Coast Guard cutters, the Dorchester and two other transport ships were en route between New York and Greenland. The Dorchester was torpedoed by a German submarine during the early morning hours.

Four young chaplains, George L. Fox (Methodist), Alexander D. Goode (Jewish), John P. Washington (Catholic) and Clark V. Poling (Lutheran), offered both spiritual and practical help to passengers and crew. They prayed while handing out lifejackets and helping others into lifeboats. When the supply of lifejackets ran out, the chaplains gave up their own to other men. They were still aboard when the ship sank.

Four Chaplains

I don’t recall knowing anything about these chaplains before we happened on this monument, but their sacrifice is commemorated in several chapels and sanctuaries and by many sculptures, memorials, and plaques. Their heroism has been the subject of several books, a musical composition, a number of paintings, and a television documentary. In December 1944, the chaplains were posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Distinguished Service Cross. A 1948 postage stamp honored their sacrifice, and in 1988, Congress established February 3rd as Four Chaplains Day.

“Along the Way” is a celebration of a few of the roadside attractions we visited when we were in North Dakota earlier this summer. Posted for Susannah Conway’s August Break 2014.

Sources for this post include:

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