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Hear the story of the Four Chaplains

The 4th District American Legion Family, Department of Georgia and the members of the Pike County American Legion Family 197 will present the Four Chaplains Ceremony honoring the 77th anniversary of their story at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 2 at Mt. Gilead Baptist Church at 14550 Highway 19. ’We encourage all members of the community to attend this very moving ceremony,’ said Peggi Payton, Post 197 finance officer and American Legion Auxiliary Unit 197 president. The Four Chaplains were four U.S. Army chaplains who gave their lives to save other civilians and military personnel as the USAT Dorchester sank on February 3, 1943 after being hit by a torpedo during WWII. They helped other soldiers board lifeboats and gave up their own life jackets when the supply ran out. The Four Chaplains, also sometimes referred to as the ‘Immortal Chaplains’ or the ‘Dorchester Chaplains’ joined arms, said prayers and sang hymns as they went down with the ship.  The relatively new chaplains all held the rank of first lieutenant. They included Methodist minister the Reverend George L. Fox, Reform Rabbi Alexander D. Goode (Ph.D.), Roman Catholic priest Father John P. Washington and Reformed Church in America minister the Reverend Clark V. Poling. Their backgrounds, personalities, and denominations were different, although Goode, Poling and Washington had all served as leaders in the Boy Scouts of America. They met at the Army Chaplains School at Harvard University where they prepared for assignments in the European theater, sailing on board Dorchester to report to their new assignments. ’It is our charge to see that brief, but significant, portion of American history is not lost, and the lessons of cooperation and selfless service are proclaimed,’ said Payton. ‘If you have not attended a Four Chaplains Ceremony, you owe it to yourself to see this moving ceremony.’

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