For Immediate Release: September 22, 2011
Monument Dedicated to Fallen Jewish Chaplains to be Displayed at Providence College
Providence, R.I. - PC’s Army ROTC Battalion is sponsoring the campus visit of the new national monument dedicated to fallen Jewish military chaplains on Monday, October 3, 2011 from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m., in the Slavin Center, '64 Hall. Earlier in the day, the monument will be showcased at Providence City Hall. The monument is on a nationwide tour, traveling more than 3,000 miles, which includes stops in 10 states. PC is the only higher education institution to host the monument. A formal dedication will take place on October 24 in Arlington National Cemetery, where it will remain.
Currently at Arlington National Cemetery, there is no monument to recognize the contributions of chaplains from the Jewish faith. This will now change with the installation of a monument that recognizes Jewish rabbis’ sacrifice and service since World War I. The monument will be placed on Chaplains Hill next to similar memorials dedicated to Catholic, Protestant, and World War I chaplains.
The campaign to erect the Jewish chaplain’s monument was initiated by Ken Kraetzer ’79 and jointly led by JWB Jewish Chaplains Council and Jewish Federations of North America. It has taken several years to reach its successful conclusion and involved the concerted effort of many community organizations, including the Sons of the American Legion and Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance. Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate passed legislation permitting the construction of the new monument.
Between the main gates of Arlington National Cemetery, on the road toward the Tomb of the Unknowns, in Section 2 is Chaplains Hill. The site honors the heroic service of military chaplains with monuments honoring Catholic chaplains, chaplains lost in WWI, and Protestant chaplains. Missing is recognition of 14 Jewish chaplains killed since WWII.
On the night of February 3, 1943, in the North Atlantic near Greenland, a German U-boat torpedoed the U.S. Army troop transport ship Dorchester. The troopship carried 902 service men, merchant seamen, and civilian war workers. Among those on board were four U.S. Army chaplains, two Protestant ministers, a Catholic priest, and a Jewish rabbi, who did everything they could to help soldiers survive. The chaplains gave up their own life preservers and calmed the men. Less than 20 minutes after the torpedo struck, the ship went to the bottom of the cold north Atlantic. When last seen, the “Four Chaplains” were praying together on the ship’s railing.
The “Four Chaplains” were Father John Washington (Catholic), Reverend Clark Poling (Dutch Reformed), Rabbi Alexander Goode (Jewish), and Rev. George Fox (Methodist). Their story of heroism is one of the enduring legacies of World War II that has been recognized by presidents and Congress.