Citizens Honor Clergy | Walterboro Live

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By Vicki Brown

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Local clergy were honored by the Civitan on Thursday, February 10 at the Dogwood Country Club during Clergy Appreciation Week.

A proclamation from Mayor Bill Young was read and presented in support of Civitan Clergy Appreciation Week.

It reads:

WHEREAS, since 1960, citizens have taken the first week of February to recognize local clergy for their service to the community; and

WHEREAS clergy make daily sacrifices for their communities, but their work away from the pulpit often goes unnoticed; and

WHEREAS members of the clergy spend countless hours each week advising parishioners, conducting community outreach, preparing sermons, organizing church activities and special events, and managing the day-to-day running of the ‘church ; and

WHEREAS most members of the clergy work between 45 and 64 hours per week and some work up to 75 hours per week; and

WHEREAS many are “on call” day and night, while those who serve in hospitals, military bases and other institutions also have secondary duties; and

WHEREAS this tradition of sacrifice is ingrained in the memory of the “four chaplains”, who made the ultimate sacrifice on the “USAT Dorchester”.

NOW THEREFORE, I William T. Young, Jr., by virtue of the authority vested in me as Mayor of the City of Walterboro, South Carolina, do hereby proclaim from February 6th to 12th, 2022 the “Local Clergy Week” throughout the town of Walterboro and encourage all citizens to unite in recognition of the 79th anniversary of the sinking of the “Dorchester”, and to salute their memory and the local clergy serving our community and all communities around the world, and to thank them for their continued commitment to service.

PROCLAIMED, this February 10, 2022.

Civic Secretary Donald Davis reminded club members of the Four Chaplains Saga which explains one of the reasons the club chooses to honor clergy and chaplains each year.

On February 3, 1943, during World War II, the USAT Dorchester, an old coastal steamer, was en route to Greenland. He passed through Torpedo Junction, the submarine-infested icy waters of the North Atlantic.

Due to the choppy waters, most of the crew were seasick. To make matters worse, they were in underwater waters, so the captain ordered the men to keep their life jackets on at all times. .

Four army chaplains: George Fox (Methodist), Alexander Goode (Jew), Clark Poling (Dutch Reformed) and John Washington (Roman Catholic) were on board, trying to maintain morale and offer encouragement. Their concern and camaraderie comforted the worried men.

An undetected enemy submarine had followed the ship and fired a torpedo towards the stern of the ship. The missile exploded in the boiler room below the surface, destroying the power supply and releasing suffocating clouds of steam and ammonia gas. Many on board died instantly. Some men were trapped below deck. Taking on water rapidly, the ship began to heel over and sink.

For security reasons, the ship could not use distress flares, so the escort ships that had accompanied the ship and could have assisted, did not see the attack in the dark and continued on their way, unaware that the USAT Dorchester was sinking.

Panic ensued, with overcrowded lifeboats capsizing and rafts drifting before anyone could reach them. The four chaplains calmed the frightened men, put on their spare life jackets and pushed them overboard. The supply of extra jackets has run out and the men are still waiting.

The four chaplains decided to stay with the sinking ship, took off their life jackets and gave them to the frightened servicemen.

After all the lifeboats had been launched, there were still many men on board. They were last seen standing together on the bridge, leading the men in prayer. Arms bound in friendship and heads bowed in prayer, they sank beneath the waves.

The selflessness of the four chaplains and their heroic act will be forever remembered.

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