To the Editor:
I am the chaplains of Cape May American Legion Post 193 and Cape May VFW Post 386, and would be remiss, especially in these days of history being tossed aside, if we did not commemorate the selfless acts of the Four Chaplains on February 3rd, 1943. Each year, we honor the chaplains and the 668 other men who died when the Army Transport Dorchester was struck by an enemy torpedo in the North Atlantic.
For those not familiar, as the Dorchester took on water, four Army Chaplains, Lt. George L. Fox (Methodist), Lt. Alexander D. Goode (Jewish), Lt. John P. Washington (Roman Catholic), and Lt. Clark V. Poling (Dutch Reformed) - calmed the frightened, aided the wounded and guided the disoriented toward safety. They began distributing life jackets, and when no more were available, they gave their own to four young men.
As the ship went down, men in rafts saw the four chaplains, arms linked and braced against the slanting deck, singing hymns and praying.
Since they were not under fire, they were not eligible for the Medal of Honor. President Eisenhower awarded them a one-time posthumous Special Medal for Heroism in 1961; it was intended to have the same weight and importance as the Medal of Honor.
I felt in view of COVID 19 and our not being able to lead the community in memorial ceremonies, to honor the chaplains and the 668 other men who died, it was important to tell the public about this event in the Herald.