On the frigid night of FEBRUARY 3, 1943, the Allied ship Dorchester plowed through the waters near Greenland. At 1:00am, a Nazi submarine fired a torpedo into its flank, killing many in the explosion and trapping others below deck. It the ensuing chaos, four chaplains: a priest, a rabbi and two protestant ministers; distributed life jackets. When there were none left, the four chaplains ripped off their own jackets and put them on four young men.
Standing embraced on the slanting deck, the chaplains bowed their heads in prayer as they sank to their icy deaths. Congress honored them by declaring this “Four Chaplains Day.”
On February 7, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower remarked:
And we remember that, only a decade ago, aboard the transport Dorchester, four chaplains of four faiths together willingly sacrificed their lives so that four others might live. In the three centuries that separate the Pilgrims of the Mayflower from the chaplains of the Dorchester, America’s freedom, her courage, her strength, and her progress have had their foundation in faith.
Eisenhower concluded: “Today as then, there is need for positive acts of renewed recognition that faith is our surest strength, our greatest resource.”
The Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.