FOUR CHAPLAINS DAY
On February 3rd each year, Four Chaplains Day honors four military chaplains from World War II who sacrificed their lives for fellow service members.
Chaplains in the military are an integral part of the service environment. They provide counseling, spiritual guidance, conduct services, and religious rites, among other responsibilities, and serve all over the globe. If there are military personnel stationed there, chaplains are too.
During World War II, four chaplains who had attended Chaplain School together at Harvard boarded the Dorchester en route to the Army Command Base in southern Greenland. Aboard the ship were 904 service members. The four chaplains were Reverend George L. Fox, a Methodist minister, Reverend Clark V. Poling of the Reformed Church of America, Rabbi Alexander D. Goode, and Father John P. Washington of the Roman Catholic Church. Their voyage began on January 23, 1943. At the time, German U-Boats were patrolling the area, and the convoy was on high alert. When a German submarine torpedoed the Dorchester on February 3, 1943, in the frigid waters off the coast of Newfoundland, chaos ensued.
Eyewitnesses recounted the chaplains’ heroism, including giving their life jackets and gloves to other service members. They prayed with service members, assisting them into lifeboats. The four chaplains remained on the sinking Dorchester. Only 230 men were rescued from the waters.
HOW TO OBSERVE FOUR CHAPLAINS DAY
FOUR CHAPLAINS DAY HISTORY
In 1998, Congress unanimously established Four Chaplains Day to be observed annually on February 3rd.