Gannon to Host Interfaith Memorial Service Honoring The Four Chaplains

Four_ChaplainsPosted: January 30, 2015

One of the most heroic and inspiring acts of World War II will be commemorated on its 71st anniversary by a ceremony at Gannon University on Tuesday, Feb. 3 at 2 p.m. in the Yehl Alumni Room in the Waldron Campus Center, 124 W. Seventh St.

The ceremony is an interfaith memorial service honoring the Four Chaplains, Lt. George L. Fox, Methodist; Lt. Alexander D. Goode, Jewish; Lt. John P. Washington, Roman Catholic; and Lt. Clark V. Poling, Dutch Reformed.

The four United States Army chaplains uttered prayers of serenity for the soldiers as the troop ship USAT Dorchester sank on February 3, 1943. As lifejackets grew scarce, the chaplains were seen removing their own and handing them to soldiers. Onlookers, who managed to find safety last saw the chaplains linked arm-in-arm, praying as they went down with the ship.

A hero from a later conflict, Medal of Honor Recipient, Gary Beikirch, will be the keynote speaker at the ceremony.

As a Special Forces medical aidman at Camp Dak Seang, Vietnam in 1970, Sgt. Beikirch, with complete disregard for his personal safety, moved through enemy fire to his fallen comrades, applied first aid to their wounds and assisted them to the medical aid station, ignoring his own serious injuries and refusing treatment as he continued his search for other casualties until he collapsed. Beikirch, a native of Rochester, N.Y., was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1973.

"The Four Chaplains Interfaith Memorial Service provides our faith-based community the perfect time to come together, regardless of religious preference, to recognize the sacrifice that so many veterans have made in order to preserve our way of life and to protect all of our freedoms, not just the freedom of religion," said Army Lt. Col. Daniel T. Rempfer, professor of military science.

The University will bring together five local Junior ROTC programs, members of its own Pride of PA ROTC Battalion, Veterans from Gannon and surrounding local colleges and universities, members of local American Legions and VFW posts and participants in the Music for Veterans project. The public is encouraged to attend.

For more information about The Four Chaplains Interfaith Memorial Service, please contact Ron Swift at (814) 871-7483 or swift003@gannon.edu.