On February 3, 1943, an Army transport ship called the Dorchester, carrying American soldiers through the icy North Atlantic on their way to serve in World War II, was about 100 miles off the coast of Greenland in rough sea. More than 900 people were on board. Most of the soldiers were no more than young boys. In the blackness of night, a German submarine fired torpedoes at the Dorchester. One of the torpedoes hit the middle of the ship, which knocked out the electrical system and put the ship in darkness. The ship began to sink. There were four chaplains on board, who were calming the soldiers, and handing out life jackets to the men. The chaplains were doing what chaplains do: providing comfort and guidance and hope. There were not enough life jackets for all of the men, so the chaplains took off their life jackets and handed them to the soldiers.
More than 600 men died that night in the frigid seas, but some 230 were rescued. Those four chaplains, men of different faiths but believing in the same God, their arms linked, standing on the deck together in prayer. The ship went down.
The American Legion organization commemorate the anniversary on the first Sunday in February every year as Four Chaplains Sunday. They honor the Four Chaplains and ensure their legacy of brotherhood and selfless service. May they be remembered for generations to come.
You can view the full story here.
We encourage everyone to join us in observing Four Chaplain’s Sunday this February 5, 2017 in our church services at 10:30 a.m. and for our Souper Bowl Coffee Hour with all at United Riverside Congregational Church 290 Water Street Lawrence, MA.
We may never be asked to give up our own life jacket to save another person, but the story of the Four Chaplains can inspire us to reach out a helping hand in a time of need.