Matthews American Legion Post 235 hosted their first Spaghetti Dinner recently at the Masonic Lodge located in downtown Matthews. The Post membership of veterans who reside in Matthews, Mint Hill, and South Charlotte opened their doors to the community to enjoy some good home cooked food in a comfortable atmosphere to support veterans with special needs. Also, to support youth programs within our community such as High School Junior ROTC, Scouting, scholarships to Boys State, Student Trooper including support of other children and youth related programs and activities.
The American Legion supports Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation, National Security, Americanism, Children and Youth. These are the four pillars of the organization who are made up of patriotic veterans devoted to mutual helpfulness. It is the nations largest wartime organization, committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs in our communities. The group advocates patriotism, honor, strong national security, and continued devotion to fellow service members.
The service honored Four Chaplains Reverend George L. Fox, Reverend Clark V. Poling, Rabbi Alexander D Goode, and Catholic Priest Father John P. Washington. These four chaplains gave their lives to save others as the troop ship S.S. Dorchester sank after being torpedoed on February 3, 1943. They assisted and comforted other soldiers on board lifeboats and gave up their own life jackets when the supply was depleted. The chaplains joined arms, said prayers, and sang hymns as they went down with the ship.
“As I swam away from the ship, I looked back. The flares had lighted everything. The bow came up high and she slid under. The last thing I saw, the Four Chaplains were up there praying for the safety of the men. They had done everything they could, I did not see them again. They themselves did not have a chance, said Grady Clark, a survivor.”
The story was told and described by Post Adjutant/Chaplain Al Cerino who gave a more detailed account of the incident and encounter with the German U-Boat 223 and the ships sinking which really hit home with many Americans at the time. It is a story of heroism, sacrifice, and faith that four chaplains who graduated together from Chaplains School, a Catholic Priest, Jewish Rabbi, Methodist Minister, and Reformed Church Reverend came together as brothers, as one unit to save others while making the ultimate sacrifice. This is truly a story about the greatest generation, their unselfish willingness to protect their fellow comrades and defend this great nation.
American Legion Posts around the world recognize the first Sunday of February as Four Chaplains Day. The Legion Chaplains Handbook outlines ceremonies with candle lighting’s, prayers, presentations and “Legion of Honor” awards for community members who exemplify the spirit of the four chaplains.