Four U.S. Army chaplains of different faiths and different backgrounds, united in service and united in a greater faith, stood together leading prayer as the U.S.A.T. Dorchester went down in the icy, North Atlantic waters on February 3, 1943.
Today, side by side with two Protestant ministers and a Catholic priest, I participated in the honor of remembering the service of these inspirational servicemen...
U.S. Army Lieutenants:
Rev. George L. Fox (Methodist)
Rabbi Alexander D. Goode (Jewish)
Rev. Clark V. Poling (Reformed Church in America)
Fr. John P. Washington (Roman Catholic)
Each year, the Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation sponsors tributes throughout the country and overseas to remember the spirit of interfaith brotherhood that united these four dedicated men of religion and the inspiration their memory serves to perpetuate interfaith service.
In 1951, President Harry S. Truman dedicated a chapel in honor of the four chaplains at Grace Baptist Church in Philadelphia and Congress created a special medal, The Four Chaplains’ Medal and awarded it to families of the chaplains in January of 1961. The Episcopal Church of America established February 3rd as a feast day in their honor.
During the tribute, we read the biography of each of the chaplains. I read Rabbi Lt. Alexander Goode’s story. Take a moment to read Rabbi Goode’s biography and honor his memory...
Alexander D. Goode was born in Brooklyn, New York on May 10, 1911. His father was a rabbi and his mother, Fay had two other sons, Joseph and Moses, and a daughter, Agatha. Alex received medals at Eastern High School, Washington D.C. for tennis, swimming and track. He led his class in scholarship too! He planned to follow in his father’s footsteps and became a rabbi, but that did not keep him from having a laughing, shouting, hall-fellow-well-met boyhood with all the Protestant and Catholic boys in his neighborhood. He graduated from Eastern in 1929.
He entered the University of Cincinnati and graduated in 1934 with an A.B. degree… and then on to Hebrew Union College with a B.H. degree in 1937. He later received his Ph.D. from John Hopkins University in 1940.
Alex married his childhood sweetheart, Theresa Flax, daughter of Nathan and Rose Flax. Theresa was a niece of singer and motion picture star, Al Jolson. They were married on October 7, 1935. HIs first assignment as an ordained rabbi was at a synagogue in Marion, Indiana 1936. On July 16, 1937, he was transferred to the Beth Israel synagogue in York, Pennsylvania until mid-1942. Alexa and Theresa had a daughter, Rosalie, who was born in 1939.
Rabbi Goode applied to become a chaplain with the U.S. Navy in January 1941, but he was not accepted at that time. Right after Pearl Harbor, he tried again, this time with the Army, and received an appointment on July 21, 1942. Chaplain Goode went on active duty on August 9, 1942 and he was selected for the Chaplains School at Harvard. He had courses in map reading, first aid, law, and chemical warfare. Chaplain Goode was then assigned to the 333rd Airbase Squadron in Goldsboro, North Caroline. IN October 1942, he was transferred to Camp Myles Standish in Taunton, Massachusetts and Alex was reunited with Chaplains Fox, Poling and Washington, who were classmates at Harvard.
It was January 1943 when he boarded the U.S.A.T. Dorchester in Boston and embarkation to Greenland. Chaplain Goode was killed in action on February 3, 1943 in the icy waters of the North Atlantic when the Dorchester was sunk by a German U-boat. Chaplain Goode was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Distinguished Service Cross.