In commemoration of the dramatic sacrifice of four armed services chaplains during World War II, the American Legion will observe Religious Emphasis Week Feb. 5-11, and Four Chaplains Sunday, Feb. 5, Chaplain Paul Butler of Post 49 in Wilmington announced.
Legion officials and clergymen are planning special programs for the observance of the 74th anniversary of the sinking of the SS Dorchester and the heroism demonstrated by four chaplains. The story of these four men stirred the nation; they were credited with the saving of more than 200 lives. These four — a Jewish Rabbi, a Roman Catholic Priest and two Protestant Ministers — calmly issued life belts to American servicemen aboard the troop transport after it was torpedoed on Feb. 3, 1943.
When the supply of life preservers was exhausted, the four Chaplains removed their own life belts and gave them to four soldiers and then stood calmly on the sinking ship, their arms around one another’s shoulders and their heads bowed in prayer.
Inspired by the heroic deed of these four Chaplains, the American Legion each year marks the anniversary of their supreme sacrifice through special services and programs throughout the nation. This annual observance, as part of the Legion’s “Service to God and Country” program, helps bring new emphasis to the religious aspects of our American heritage and the need for continuing adherence to the basic religious concepts upon which America was founded.
This year’s Four Chaplains Sunday commemoration will be hosted by the Presbyterian Church of Wilmington, 840 Timber Glen Drive, during the morning worship service at 10:30 a.m. the public is invited.