Four Chaplains Day by Act of Congress

Today, February 3rd, is known as “Four Chaplains Day.” It was designated this title by Congress after a heroic act by four military chaplains who were serving on the S.S Dorchester during World War 2. Rev. Clark Poling (Dutch Reformed), Rev. George Lansing Fox (Methodist), Father John Washington (Roman Catholic priest) and Alexander David Goode (a Jewish Rabbi) sacrificed their lives as their ship went down.

The Dorchester, which was transporting 904 troops, was torpedoed by a U-Boat on Feb 3, 1943. The initial torpedo killed more than 100 young soldiers and the second plunged the ship into darkness. The survivors panicked and scrambled, trying to find life jackets. In the midst of all the disarray and chaos, the four chaplains worked with then men, bringing order with their words of assurance and prayers.

The chaplains gave up their own life jackets to save four others. As the Dorchester finally began to sink, the four chaplains were seen linking their arms together. They had all been friends since their days at Chaplain school at Harvard University. Witnesses said that they heard two prayers amid the screams of pain and horror that permeated the cold dark night. It was the strong voices of the Chaplains. "Shema Yisroel Adonai Elohenu Adonai Echod." "Our Father, which art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done."

Looking back they saw the slanting deck of the Dorchester, its demise almost complete. Braced against the railings were the Four Chaplains...praying...singing, giving strength to others by their final valiant declaration of faith. Their arms were linked together as they braced against the railing and leaned into each other for support, Reverend Fox, Rabbi Goode, Reverend Poling, and Father Washington. Said one of the survivors, "It was the finest thing I have ever seen this side of heaven."

Today is also Transfiguration Sunday. The word ‘transfiguration’ means a remarkable display of God’s Glory, which illuminates the person, notably Moses, Jesus, and Stephen from the Bible. Perhaps, in the darkness of February 3rd 1943, God’s glory was also seen in the sacrifices of Rev. Clark Poling, Rev. George Lansing Fox, Father John Washington, and Rabbi Alexander David Goode.

John Stuart

Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

Receive our free newsletters

The Illustrator: This daily newsletter is dedicated to encouraging everyone to look towards Jesus as the source of all the solutions to our problems. It contains a daily inspirational story, a Bible verse and encouraging messages. HTML and plain text versions available. 


The Nugget: Published three times a week, this newsletter features inspirational devotionals and mini-sermons dedicated to drawing mankind closer to each other and to Christ.

Visit Answers2Prayer

Subscribe Here:
The Illustrator
The Nugget

Your email:

Please be aware that you will receive a confirmation message via email. Once you receive it, please click on the link mentioned in the email. If you have problems please email us.