Feb. 3, 2023 – Four Chaplains Day

Feb. 3, 2023 – Four Chaplains Day – A Day to remember the four U.S. Army chaplains who made the ultimate sacrifice when the USAT Dorchester sank during World War II.

Four Chaplains Day is celebrated on February 3 every year in recognition of four Army chaplains who acted in the spirit of heroic sacrifice and humanitarianism onboard a sinking ship. It was 1943 and the U.S.A.T. Dorchester was sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, packed to capacity. Tragedy struck when a German submarine fired a torpedo at the ship, sinking it and killing the hundreds who were onboard.

The Four Chaplains on board the ship were Reverend George L. Fox of the Methodist faith, Jewish Rabbi Alexander D. Goode, Father John P. Washington of the Catholic faith, and Reverend Clark V. Poling from the Dutch Reformed Church. Many witnesses remember their courage, support, and prayers for the many distressed people onboard. They offered their life jackets to four people in need and as a consequence had to remain on the sinking ship, comforted only by the thought of their actions and the fact that they were going to meet their Maker soon.

In recognition of their valor and guided by non-discrimination against anyone based on their religion, the Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation was set up as a way of promoting interfaith unity and a spirit of service among individuals. The U.S. government awarded them the Purple Heart and Distinguished Service Cross medals in 1944. They were also nominated for the highest military honor, the Medal of Honor, but because they had not engaged in active combat with the enemy, they did not qualify for it. Congress, therefore, created a ‘Special Medal for Heroism’ as an honorable substitute.

Since the bombing took place on February 3, 1943, many military organizations and clubs across the country observe Four Chaplains Day, and in 1998, a senate resolution was passed to recognize the 55th anniversary of the incident making Four Chaplains Day official.


The U.S.A.T. Dorchester was a luxury liner: The ship was first built in 1926 as a cruise ship that would travel from Baltimore to Florida with about 230 passengers.

Three of the four were boy scouts: Rabbi Goode, Reverend Poling, and Father Washington all served with the Boy Scouts of America.

There is a commemorative stamp: The U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp in honor of the four chaplains in 1948, just five years after their death, which is very rare.

An interfaith chapel was established: President Truman instituted The Chapel of the Four Chaplains in the basement of Grace Baptist Church, Philadelphia, in 1951.


Four Chaplains Day – February 3