“O hear us when we cry to thee For those in peril on the sea”*
Today is the annual “Four Chaplains Day,” established by an act of Congress in 1988. It is also observed as a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church.
Who, pray tell, were the The Four Chaplains you ask? Sometimes referred to as the “Immortal Chaplains” or the “Dorchester Chaplains,” they were four U.S. army chaplains during WWII who gave their lives to save other civilian and military personnel as the troop ship USAT Dorchester sank on February 3, 1943, having been torpedoed by a German U-boat. They helped other soldiers board lifeboats and gave up their own life jackets when the supply ran out. The chaplains joined arms, said prayers and sang hymns as they went down with the ship.
The Four were Lt. George Fox, a Methodist minister; Lt. Alexander Goode, a Jewish rabbi; Lt. John Washington, a Roman Catholic priest; and Lt. Clark Poling, a Dutch Reformed minister. Although their backgrounds, personalities and faiths were different, it should be noted that Goode, Poling and Washington had all served as leaders in the Boy Scouts of America.
They died for God and Country and we salute them. You can read more about them here.
Holy God, who didst inspire the Dorchester chaplains to be models of steadfast sacrificial love in a tragic and terrifying time: Help us to follow their example, that their courageous ministry may inspire chaplains and all who serve, to recognize thy presence in the midst of peril; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.