R 084
2018 -- S 2625
Enacted 03/06/2018

S E N A T E   R E S O L U T I O N

Introduced By: Senators Raptakis, Felag, Cote, Lynch Prata, and Morgan
Date Introduced: March 06, 2018

     WHEREAS, Just past midnight on February 3, 1943, the SS Dorchester, a United States
Army Troop ship laden with 900 troops, seamen and civilians, was passing through the brutally
cold waters of the North Atlantic, on its way to deliver support and materials to Allied bases in
Greenland. At 12:55 a.m., the SS Dorchester, located 100 miles from Greenland, was hit by a
torpedo fired from a German U-Boat. The massive explosion tore through the ship, causing an
immediate loss of life. The SS Dorchester began to list with water gushing into the lower decks of
the ship; and
     WHEREAS, Those that survived the blast were quickly in a state of panic and confusion.
Hundreds of survivors hurried towards the deck and then struggled to find the lifeboats as the ship
began to sink. Few of the men were wearing life vests, and knew that the frigid waters of the
Atlantic below them meant an almost certain death; and
     WHEREAS, In the midst of this chaos four chaplains, George Fox, a Methodist Minister,
Alexander Goode, a Jewish Rabbi, Clark Poling, a Dutch Reformed Minister, and John
Washington, a Roman Catholic Priest, all First Lieutenants, rushed forward to help their fellow
shipmates. They began distributing the limited number of available life jackets and when it
became clear that there were not enough available life jackets, they gave up their own so that
others might live. They remained on deck until the end, assisting others, and were four of the 670
people who perished; and
     WHEREAS, After the war, numerous memorials were created to honor these four
chaplains. A stained glass window in the Pentagon Chapel is dedicated to their memory. In 1960,
Congress passed a law authorizing the President to posthumously award a decoration for
extraordinary heroism to the four chaplains in honor of their actions. The Four Chaplains' Medal
was presented to their next of kin in 1961. They are also honored with inscriptions upon the Walls
of the Missing at an ABMC memorial, the place where the American government honors all
service members who were lost at sea. Finally, in the Battery on the southern tip of Manhattan
Island, stands the East Coast Memorial. On this site, overlooking New York Harbor, stand eight
large pylons with the names and service information of the 4,611 Americans, including the Four
Chaplains, who perished in the western waters of the Atlantic Ocean during World War II; now,
therefore be it
     RESOLVED, That this Senate of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
hereby commemorates the 75th Anniversary of the "Four Chaplains", four men of God who
sacrificed their lives during World War II so that others might live; and be it further
     RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be and hereby is authorized and directed to
transmit a duly certified copy of this resolution to Mr. Kasim J. Yarn, Director of the Rhode
Island Department of Veterans Affairs and Jane Deptula, Department of Rhode Island Marine
Corps League.