Gov. Dayton orders flags flown at half-staff in honor of Immortal Four Chaplains Day
In observance of the 72nd anniversary of the tragic sinking of the United States Army transport Dorchester off the coast of Greenland, Gov. Mark Dayton will order all U.S. Minnesota flags to be flown at half-staff at all state buildings in the st...
In observance of the 72nd anniversary of the tragic sinking of the United States Army transport Dorchester off the coast of Greenland, Gov. Mark Dayton will order all U.S. Minnesota flags to be flown at half-staff at all state buildings in the state of Minnesota, from sunrise until sunset today.
Individuals, businesses and other organizations are also encouraged to lower their flags in observance of the anniversary Feb. 3, 2015, at the time of their choosing.
In 1957, the U.S. Congress established national observance of the tragedies' anniversary to honor the four chaplains of different faiths whose heroic and selfless acts that day saved the lives of many men. The governor's proclamation notes that Immortal Four Chaplains Day encourages all Minnesotans to express "compassion for those of different races or faiths."
Witnesses of the event in 1943 recounted the heroic actions of Lt. George L. Fox, Methodist; Lt. Alexander D. Goode, Jewish; Lt. John P. Washington, Catholic; and Lt. Clark V. Poling, Dutch Reformed.
During the 18 minutes the transport was sinking, the four chaplains went soldier to soldier to calm fears and hand out lifejackets. When there were no more lifejackets left to hand out, the four chaplains removed their own life vests and selflessly gave them to soldiers in need of protection. The four chaplains went down with the ship, arm-in-arm in prayer.
The chaplains' unique interfaith spirit and love for their fellow men was memorialized by the United States Postal Service on a postage stamp titled "These Immortal Chaplains - Interfaith in Action."
In a story on the four chaplains in 2013, the Orange County Register noted the accounts of those who survived the sinking after a torpedo struck amidships on the Dorchester's starboard side.
Survivors recalled the four chaplains giving away their life jackets and refusing to take space in the lifeboats, four of which capsized from overcrowding. The water was 36 degrees.
"Moments before the ship sank, 1st Sgt. Michael Warish saw the four chaplains at the stern," the Register reported. "'I could see that they were not going overboard, ... They were holding one last service.'"
Crewmen lined the rails, each illuminated by a small red light on his life jacket.
"Survivor James Eardley saw the ship sink, too," the Register noted. "'When she rolled, all I could see was the keel up there,' (Eardley) said in 1995. 'We saw the four chaplains standing arm-in-arm ... like they were looking up to heaven, you might say. Then the boat took a nosedive. It went right down, and they went with it.'"
The Immortal Chaplains Foundation awards an annual prize to those who either risk their lives or have given their lives to protect another person of another faith or ethnicity.
For more about the four chaplains, go to ImmortalChaplains.org.