Veterans Corner: Remembering Four Chaplains Day

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The Michael Trebert Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution Wreaths Across America 2021 has added Dungeness Cemetery and other local cemeteries near Sequim to the program for Dec. 18, 2021.

The ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. at Sequim View Cemetery. There will be wreath laying at the other cemeteries at designated times.

The Daughters want to make sure every veteran has a wreath. If you have a family member that is a veteran, buried in a local cemetery, and there is nothing on the marker to indicate they are a veteran please contact me at cdrlgilchrist@gmail.com, to let me know what cemetery, the name and approximate location so we can make sure they have a wreath placed on their grave.

Please save the date and watch for more notices about the event. You can order wreaths at wreathsacross america.org/WA0153; the WA0153 indicates the Sequim area.

Toys for Tots a success

The 2020 Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots campaign was significantly different from years past. The pandemic put unique restrictions on elements of the program: the Marine Corps League, which sponsors the program in Clallam County, and other veteran service organizations were unable to stand up the donation collection stations at Walmart and Swain’s general store as in years past.

The campaign emphasized financial donations in order to purchase toys to make up for this restriction. The sorting and distribution of toys to supported agencies and non-profits had to be accomplished with limited numbers, social distancing, and regular sanitation protocols.

Multiple gatherings that normally provide toys to many kids, such as the annual Christmas parties for the Boys & Girls Clubs in Sequim and Port Angeles and other youth service agencies, were canceled and replaced with drive through events.

Nonetheless, all requests submitted were met, as 5,343 toys were distributed in response to requests for 4,123 kids — a record.

Financial donations also set a record, with $31,000 donated to the program from individuals, the Toys for Tots Foundation, and a $5,000 grant from United Way of Clallam County.

The program retains an inventory of nearly 5,000 toys for the 2021 campaign and sufficient account reserves so that collection stations will not be needed if pandemic restrictions are still in place.

Toys for Tots coordinator Steve Deutermann is concluding six years as Clallam county coordinator. A replacement is needed and any citizen in good standing who is a resident of Clallam county and willing to undergo the three-day training regimen in Virginia (all expenses covered) is invited to apply.

Although coordinators in the past have been Marines or Navy veterans, veteran’s status is not a requirement. Contact Deutermann at 360-477-2913 if you would be interested in leading this unique and rewarding charitable program. Toys for Tots is the only Department of Defense chartered charitable corporation. All financial contributions to Toys for Tots are tax deductible.

Four Chaplains Day

Feb. 3 was Four Chaplains Day. It was established by Congress in 1988 to honor the selfless sacrifice of four Army chaplains who gave their lives to save others during WWII.

Jack Grennan Post 62 of the American Legion usually holds a ceremony, but this year because of the COVID pandemic was not be able to. I want to remind you of these men and their example.

The Army Transport Dorchester was in the North Atlantic on Feb. 2, 1943, with 902 servicemen, merchant seaman and civilian workers onboard. At 12:55 a.m. on Feb. 3, an officer on the Dorchester saw the periscope of German Submarine U-223. The submarine fired torpedoes and scores of men were killed and wounded. According to survivors, in this time of dreadful confusion the four Army chaplains brought hope and light and gave their life jackets to men who had none. Lt. George L. Fox (Methodist), Lt Alexander D. Goode (Jewish), Lt John P. Washington (Roman Catholic) and Lt Clark V. Poling (Dutch Reformed) linked arms and braced against the slanting deck of the sinking ship prayed aloud and sang hymns until they disappeared beneath the waves. They became an enduring example of extraordinary faith, courage and selflessness.

The original Chapel of the Four Chaplains opened in 1951. Today it is in Philadelphia where you can see the historic mural and the five bronze plaques bearing the names of those who perished and four large portraits of the Four Chaplains.

Contributors: American Legion, Paul Renick, grennanalpost62@gmail.com; MOAA and Voices For Veterans, Lorri Gilchrist, cdrlgilchrist@gmail.com; Marine Corps League, Mark Schildknecht, marana-s@outlook.com; Korean War Veterans, Jerry Rettela, eletteor@msn.com; VFW 4760, Steve Henrikson, secretary@ vfwpost4760.com ; VFW 6787, Rod Lee, sealteam54@q.com.

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