The Four Chaplains and Religious Tolerance
August 12th, 2010 by MOTHAX
"Grant us now your abiding presence and may we remain faithful to the spirit of our Four Chaplains who, having learned to live and serve together, in death were not divided." Got a somewhat timely news story sent to me today, and since the Four Chaplains are about my favorite historical topic, it gives me a chance to post about it. Set against a backdrop of continuing controversy over the so called "Ground Zero Mosque" and the recent announcement that Greg Gutfeld would like to open a Muslim Gay Bar across the street from it (potentially to be called "Outfidels" or "Al Gayda") it is wonderful to read or watch a tale about a time when religious distinctions were overcome in such a brave manner. Let's start with the article which gives rise to this post, from the Long Beach Post-Telegram:
A group of veterans, many from the World War II era, will pay their respects to the Four Immortal Chaplains in the Memorial Interfaith Sanctuary aboard the Queen Mary Saturday. During World War II, the four chaplains - a Methodist, a Jewish rabbi, a Catholic priest and a Reformed Church in America minister - saved lives aboard the USS Dorchester on Feb. 3, 1943, by giving their own. The ship was near Greenland when it was struck by a torpedo launched by the U-223, a German submarine. Amid the confusion and fear, the chaplains not only continued to comfort the men, they each gave up their life jackets to others. The chaplains went down with the ship. More than 600 of the more than 900 aboard died, the chaplains - Methodist Rev. George Fox, Reformed Church Rev. Clark Poling, Rabbi Alex Goode and Catholic priest John Washington - were instrumental in many others being saved.Makes it sound a little dry, so (as always) I give you a video describing the Dorchester's date with destruction. For a pretty good run down of the events that day, you should go to the Four Chaplains website. Great resource to find out more about each of the Chaplains. Even before coming to work at the Legion, George Fox was the one that interested me the most, since he was from Vermont, where my maternal line comes from. When I came here though it made me very pleased to learn that Reverend Fox had been the Department Chaplain and Historian for Vermont's American Legion. If you have never been to a Four Chaplains Memorial service, it is rather humbling. I was a guest at an excellent one that the Department of Washington ran after their mid-winter conference last year. It seems appropriate to end this post with the collection prayer that is suggested by the Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation.
God of our Fathers and our God, we thank You for the unity that the U.S.A.T. DORCHESTER Chaplains, these four men of God, demonstrated in life and in death. Unity that is not uniformity. Unity that strengthens within each of us every worthy loyalty of faith and practice. Unity that transcends all our differences and makes us one in loyalty to our country and our fellowmen, and to you our God. Grant us now your abiding presence and may we remain faithful to the spirit of our Four Chaplains who, having learned to live and serve together, in death were not divided.
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