St. Paul— In observance of the 69th anniversary of the tragic sinking of the United States Army transport Dorchester off the coast of Greenland, Governor Mark Dayton will order all U.S. Minnesota flags to be flown at half-staff at all state buildings in the State of Minnesota, from sunrise until sunset on Friday, February 3, 2012.
Individuals, businesses, and other organizations are also encouraged to lower their flags in observance of the anniversary on Friday, February 3, 2012, at the time of their choosing.
In 1957 the U.S. Congress established national observance of the accident’s anniversary to honor the four chaplains of difference faiths whose heroic and selfless acts that day saved the lives of many men. The Governor’s proclamation notes that Immortal Four Chaplains Day encourages all Minnesotans to express “compassion for those of different races or faiths.”
Witnesses of the event in 1943 recounted the heroic actions of Lt. George L. Fox, Methodist; Lt. Alexander D. Goode, Jewish; Lt. John P. Washington, Catholic; and Lt. Clark V. Poling, Dutch Reformed. During the 18 minutes the transport was sinking, the four chaplains went soldier to soldier to calm fears and hand out lifejackets. When there were no more lifejackets left to hand out, the four chaplains removed their own life vests and selflessly gave them to soldiers in need of protection. The four chaplains went down with the ship, arm-in-arm in prayer.
The chaplains’ unique interfaith spirit and love for their fellow men was memorialized by the United States Postal Service on a postage stamp titled “These Immortal Chaplains—Interfaith in Action”.