Sent by David Cumming, American Legion Post 110
COARSEGOLD – Melody Dewolf is arranging olive branches on a wreath of vine and talking about the lives legacy of the “four chaplains” of World War II.
It’s a story worth remembering. In the early morning hours of Feb. 3, 1943, say historians including the American Legion, four U.S. Army chaplains sacrificed their lives, together, so that others could live.
“They were among 902 servicemen, merchant seamen and civilian workers aboard the transport ship U.S.A.T. Dorchester that was torpedoed by a German submarine in the icy waters off Greenland.”
The selflessness of these chaplains is observed nationally as Four Chaplains Day in ceremonies held by various patriotic, religious and service organizations. Coarsegold business owner Melody Dewolf of the Coarsegold Emporium has been asked by organizers of this year’s Clovis event to provide a hand-made wreath in commemoration of the acts of heroism by the four men.
This Saturday, Feb. 7, American Legion District 14 invites the public as they again host the Four Chaplains program starting at 1 p.m.. Activities takeplace in the Auditorium of the Clovis Veterans Memorial District Building, located at 808 4th Street in Clovis.
Through the pandemonium of that long-ago but unforgotten night, the chaplains – First Lieutenants George L. Fox (Methodist), Alexander D. Goode (Jewish), Clark V. Poling (Reformed Church of America) and John P. Washington (Roman Catholic) – comforted the wounded and dying and led men to life jackets.
When there were no more life jackets to give out, the chaplains gave up theirs to others, linked arms and, praying, went down with the ship.
At the ceremony on Saturday, a group including an Army chaplain, Pastors, Reverends, and a Rabbi will read tributes to the revered Four Chaplains. The event will also include the singing of patriotic songs and hymns, inspirational messages, a salute to the Colors and “Taps” by personnel from area Army units.
The actions of the four chaplains touched many, especially Dr. Daniel A. Poling who learned of his son’s and the chaplains’ deaths while the elder Poling was serving as a chaplain in North Africa. This loss gave birth to the establishment of a shrine in memory of this noble sacrifice. The idea is embodied in the Interfaith Chapel of the Four Chaplains in Philadelphia. A collection taken during the Clovis ceremony will be sent to the shrine.
If you can’t make it to the Four Chaplains ceremony in Clovis this year, you can look forward to photos of the wreath and the event that Melody promises to send.