Honoring three local Legion of Honor recipients, Greg Bennett, Commander Andrews American Legion Post 69 and the Andrews Church of God, hosted a Four Chaplains Memorial Service.
The proceedings started off with speakers from four different religions talking about the Four Chaplains story, which took place 70 years ago this month.
The Four Chaplains, Methodist Minister Reverend George Fox, Reverend Clark Poling, a Dutch Reformed Minister, Father John Washington, a Catholic Priest and Jewish Rabbi Alexander Goode were aboard the US Army transport Dorchester when it was torpedoed by an enemy submarine near Greenland on February 3, 1943.
The Four Chaplains assisted the soldiers who had lifejackets but soon ran out. They took off their own lifejackets and gave them to the soldiers who had none. And when the chaplains were last seen, their arms were linked as they knelt together on the deck and their heads were bowed as each prayed to their One God.
The Legion of Honor Program recognizes persons whose lives take after the unselfish service to community, nation and humanity without regard to race, religion or creed. The service began by the Reverend Daniel Poling as a way to honor the acts of courage of the Four Chaplains.
Talking in memory of Chaplain Alexander R. Goode, Rabbi Deborah Slavitt, said in honor of Rabbi Goode she chose a few things she wanted to share. The first thing she spoke of is the oneness of God, the idea that God really is everything, that God is existence itself.
Rabbi Goode, from his earliest career as a Rabbi, seems to have stood for the idea that we are all one and owe each other the recognition of that oneness, Rabbi Slavitt said.
"When he heard about the war and all that was going on in Germany, he was desperately concerned about the Jews in Germany and he saw where Hitler's policies were going and he said to himself this will either be the crisis that ushers in a century of humanity or it will be the end of that idea in and of itself."
She said as a young rabbi in Pennsylvania, one of the things Rabbi Goode did was found Boy Scout Troop 37 in York, Pennsylvania in 1941. "It was a multi-cultural mixed race troop," she said. "It was the first troop in the US to have scouts earn Catholic, Jewish and Protestant awards."
"These are the principles by which Rabbi Goode lived," she said. "He had the vision to see that we are all linked in oneness."
Reverend Edward Hardee spoke about Chaplain George L. Fox and the impressive work of the chaplains. George Fox joined the military at 17 because of his deep desire to serve. He served in World War I and began to study and became a Methodist preacher in New Hampshire. He became a state chaplain and then united with the four chaplains.
Hardee explained your character and who you are starts coming out and "so what we realize from the lives that they gave up and from the sacrifice they made, it was not something they were doing on the surface but something that came from inside of them, their character, their hope and desire to help others," he said.
Reverent William Clinton Stockton told attendees that Chaplain Clarke V. Poling, was born on August 7, 1910, in Columbus, Ohio and his father was a minister. Poling was ordained and his first assignment was the First Church of Christ in Connecticut and shortly after he accepted an assignment as pastor of First Reform Church in New York.
"With our country now at war, he decided to become a chaplain after talking with his father," Stockton said. "Without hesitation, he was appointed on June 10, 1942 as a chaplain. He later attended chaplain school at Harvard with Chaplains Fox, Washington, Goode."
"The thing I find most interesting not about this chaplain but all the other chaplains is what counted most to them is their country and their fellow soldiers, they gave it all," Stockton said.
The final speaker, Father Patrick Stenson, talked about Chaplain John P. Washington who loved music and sang in the Church choir. He was ordained and became a deacon in the church. Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 Father Washington received his appointment as a Chaplain in the U.S. Army. In 1942 he met the other chaplains in Massachusetts.
"The chaplains helped the soldiers and it didn't matter their religion or what faith, they just helped whoever came their way," Stenson said. "They loved their God and they loved humanity."
Past recipients of the Legion of Honor Award include Presidents Truman, Carter and Reagan and Bob Hope, C. Everett Koop, Tommy Lasorda and Shirley Chisholm while the latest recipients of this award are Senator J. Yancey McGill, Thomas G. Alford and David Tisdale.
The Legion of Honor is awarded by the Four Chaplains Foundation.
Senator McGill's lifetime activities take in service to his community, state and nation. He served as Kingstree Town Council Member, Mayor Pro Temp and has more than 20 years service as South Carolina State Senator. He has also served on the Select Committee of the Education Improvement Act and has helped obtain funding for a new fire truck and facilities in Andrews.
Thomas Alford retired with 24 years of dedicate service with the Army Reserves. He was the first African American to reach the rank of E-7 Sergeant First Class in the Andrews unit of the South Carolina Army National Guard. He serves as a Council Member for the Town of Andrews and serves on the Airport Commission. He also is an advocate for veterans and is the founder and president of the Andrews Veteran's Association (AVA).
David Tisdale, who was unable to attend the ceremony, is a distinguished graduate of The Citadel, The Military College of the South. He rose from the ranks of the US Army from 2nd Lieutenant to retiring as a Colonel. He has been a Hospice care patient volunteer to the terminally ill for more than ten years and volunteers with the Andrews Meals On Wheels and the Andrews Lions Club. Tisdale is also a member of the Andrews Town Council.
By Barbara Gengler
For The Times
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