State commander at American Legion Four Chaplains program
Rev. Daniel Seehafer, the Commander of the American Legion Department of Wisconsin, will visit American Legion Post 236 in Algoma when it holds a Jan. 29 ceremony for the legion’s Four Chaplains Day.
This marks the first time a state commander of the legion has come to Kewaunee County, according to a news release from Post 236. Seehafer also recently served as National Chaplain for the American Legion.
As part of the Four Chaplains program, the post will hold a Vietnam veterans commemoration and give a pin to each Vietnam War veteran present. The public is welcome to attend.
Four Chaplains Day is held in remembrance of acts of valor by four religious leaders aboard the Dorchester during World War II.
The four-story-high, U.S. Army transport ship was carrying 904 troops to Greenland as part of a six-boat convoy. Aboard were four chaplains: Rabbi Alexander B. Goode, Methodist minister George L. Fox, Reformed Church minister Clark V. Poling and Roman Catholic priest John P. Washington. They worked together to boost morale of the troops through services, humor and prayer.
At 12:56 a.m. Feb. 3, 1943, the Dorchester was torpedoed by a German U-boat about 150 miles from its destination. As the Dorchester rapidly sank, the four chaplains assisted troops with life jackets, prayed and sang hymns. When there were no more lifejackets, the four chaplains gave their life vests to four frightened young men. The ship sank in less than 27 minutes in the Atlantic’s icy waters. 605 lives were lost, including those of the four chaplains, making it the worst single loss of American personnel from an American convoy during the war.
The chaplains were posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and Purple Heart in 1944, a commemorative postage stamp was issued in recognition in 1948, and a Four Chaplains Medal was instituted by Congress in 1960. Many other memorials to the chaplains are dedicated around the country.
The U.S. Congress established Feb. 3 as an official Four Chaplains Day in 1988, and American Legion posts across the country often hold programs or ceremonies on or around that date each year.
The local Four Chaplains Day program starts at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 29 at January the American Legion Post 236 Clubhouse, 94 Clarke St., Algoma.
This article originally appeared on Wisconsin: State commander at American Legion Four Chaplains program