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WATER VALLEY – The million-plus men and women who died defending the United States are responsible for freedom that three-hundred and thirty-five million Americans enjoy today.
“They sacrificed their lives so that we might have a good life in this country,” Rep. Tommy Reynolds shared in Monday’s Memorial Day observance at VFW Post 4100. Reynolds was the speaker in the annual observance and shared the story of the “Four Chaplains.”
“Feb. 3, 1943, may not stand out that much today, but at one time it did,” Reynolds explained as he relayed the bravery and sacrifice exhibited when the U.S. troop ship SS Dorchester was torpedoed by a German submarine during the early morning hours.
“When the ship was hit, it began going down very fast,” Reynolds continued. One of 230 survivors out of the 900 on board the ship provided a first-hand account of the ordeal.
“The survivor said that there were four people who were preaching courage that day. And that was the four chaplains. He said ‘I could hear the chaplains preaching courage and that was the only thing that kept me going,’” Reynolds continued.
“There were not enough life jackets, there were not enough life boats. And so the chaplains directed people to the life boats. And then at the end, they gave their life jackets to the 17, 18 and 19 year-old soldiers. The chaplains decided to go down with the ship. The survivors said that they remembered them standing on the deck with their arms linked, praying,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds noted that the chaplains – Alexander D. Goode, Clark V. Poling, George Lansing Fox and John Patrick Washington – and others who paid the ultimate price should be honored on Memorial Day.
“These are heroes. These people have died that we might be here today. They died in different ways, in different times and in different places. Some died in Afghanistan, some died in battles in the South Pacific, some died in Europe. They died all over the world fighting for our country and our freedom,” Reynolds concluded.