During the course of this “pandemic” and the self-inflicted crisis it has created, fewer words have received more of a workout than the word “hero.” Coming from a pre-9/11 generation, heroism has a certain meaning to me. This is what I think of when I think of heroism:
On Feb. 3, 1943, the U.S.A.T. Dorchester carrying 902 service men, merchant seamen and civilian workers was sunk in the cold Atlantic.
Through the pandemonium, according to those present, four Army chaplains brought hope in despair and light in darkness. Those chaplains were Lt. George L.
Fox, Methodist; Lt. Alexander D. Goode, Jewish; Lt. John P. Washington, Roman Catholic; and Lt. Clark V. Poling, Dutch Reformed.
Quickly and quietly, the four chaplains spread out among the soldiers. There they tried to calm the frightened, tend the wounded and guide the disoriented toward safety.
“Witnesses of that terrible night remember hearing the four men offer prayers for the dying and encouragement for those who would live,” says Wyatt R. Fox, son of Reverend Fox.
One witness, Private William B. Bednar, found himself floating in oil-smeared water surrounded by dead bodies and debris. “I could hear men crying, pleading, praying,” Bednar recalls. “I could also hear the chaplains preaching courage. Their voices were the only thing that kept me going.”
By this time, most of the men were topside, and the chaplains opened a storage locker and began distributing life jackets.