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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: February 7, 2023 01:57 PM
From: Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill and Sen. Joe Pittman
To: All Senate members
Subject: “Four Chaplains Day” in Pennsylvania
In the near future, we will introduce a resolution designating February 3, 2022, as "Four Chaplains Day" in Pennsylvania to recognize and honor enduring examples of extraordinary faith, courage, and selflessness. 
Lt. George Fox (Methodist), Lt. Alexander Goode (Jewish), Lt. John Washington (Roman Catholic), and Lt. Clark Poling (Dutch Reformed) were serving in World War II when their troop transport, carrying 900 soldiers to a base in Greenland, was struck by a German torpedo just after midnight on February 3, 1943.  100 men were killed instantly, and the ship lost communications and power.  The remaining troops rushed to crowded lifeboats. The four Chaplains quickly and quietly spread out to tend the wounded, comfort the dying, and encourage the living, guiding them to lifeboats in the dark.  When there were no more lifejackets in the storage locker, all four gave up their own life jackets to men who had none, sacrificing their lives to save their fellow soldiers.  As the ship went down, survivors in nearby rafts could see the four chaplains, arms linked and braced against the slanting deck, and hear them offering prayers.  They were not among the 230 survivors rescued by nearby ships.  
That night Reverend Fox, Rabbi Goode, Reverend Poling and Father Washington passed life’s ultimate test.  In doing so, they became enduring examples of extraordinary faith, courage, and selflessness.  The chaplains were posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Distinguished Service Cross, but were technically ineligible for the Medal of Honor. Congress, wishing to honor their service, authorized a one-time Special Medal for Heroism that was awarded posthumously to their next of kin in 1961.  Today, the Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation of Philadelphia honors their legacy by recognizing unconditional acts of service performed by citizens for their communities.  Rabbi Goode spent the final years of his life in York County, where an elementary school in the York City School District proudly bears his name to honor his valor and sacrifice.  This year will mark the 80th anniversary of their sacrifice.   

I hope you will join us in co-sponsoring this resolution.  

Introduced as SR47