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Legion service honors chaplains
Four gave lives at sea 70 years ago
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Forsyth County News

If you’re going

• What: American Legion Four Chaplains Memorial Service

• When: 11 a.m. Feb. 2

• Where: Parkway Presbyterian Church, 5830 Bethelview Road

• Cost: Free

• For more information, contact American Legion Post 307 commander Geoff Toman at (678) 372-2463.

The public is invited to attend an American Legion event honoring the memory of four chaplains who gave their lives to save others.

John Arant, commander of the legion’s ninth district in Georgia, said the event is called a Four Chaplains Memorial Service.

American Legion Post 307 in Cumming will play host to the service, which is set for 11 a.m. Feb. 2 at Parkway Presbyterian Church, 5830 Bethelview Road.

According to Arant, American Legion posts around the country hold the service at times of their choosing. It will be the first for this district, which stretches from Roswell to Blue Ridge and includes 22 posts.

“Different legion posts do this around the country to try to educate younger people and to keep that memory alive,” he said. “We’ve not had one here and not many people know about it, but it’s something that should be kept alive and memorialized.”

The ceremony honors four Army chaplains who were aboard a U.S. troop ship en route to England on Feb. 3, 1943. The ship, the USAT Dorchester, was torpedoed by a German U-Boat off the coast of Greenland.

It sank within minutes, taking the lives of more than 670 men.

Before it went down, the chaplains — Methodist minister George L. Fox, Rabbi Alexander D. Goode, Roman Catholic priest John P. Washington and Reformed Church in America minister Clark V. Polling — helped soldiers board lifeboats and gave their own life vests to others who didn’t have them.

“That’s what’s memorialized … the charity of giving your life for someone else,” Arant said.

He said the ceremony “takes quite a bit of preparation,” but American Legion members feel it is important to “keep it alive” especially during its 70th anniversary.

“We’re inviting folks from throughout the district to come and learn about it,” he said.

The event will begin with music from the church choir and will continue with presentations about the chaplains.

Arant said it will last about an hour and will be followed by a “light lunch.” There is no cost to attend.

He said he hopes many will come out to learn about the chaplains and remember the servicemen who fought during World War II.

“We can’t forget the price these people paid to give us the chance to have the freedoms we have today,” he said.

“We can’t forget what happened and what those guys [who fought in the war] did and what this country did to rise up and pay the price to win that war in three and a half years.”