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Memorial service salutes those who served country

February 4, 2011

Clara Lewis plants miniature U.S. flags denoting area veterans who have died in the past 12 months during the VA Medical Center's Four Chaplains Observance Thursday at First Baptist Church. (HERALD photo/Steve Reagan)

Service and sacrifice were honored during the Four Chaplains Memorial Service Thursday at First Baptist Church.

The service, hosted by the VA Medical Center, honored all area veterans who had died in the preceding 12 months.

The Four Chaplains Memorial is named after four U.S. Army chaplains who sacrificed their lives to save others when the U.S.A.T. Dorchester, which was carrying more than 900 U.S. troops, was attacked and sunk by a German U-boat off the coast of Greenland in 1943.

The four chaplains — a Jewish rabbi, Catholic priest and two Protestant ministers — calmly passed out life jackets after the call to abandon ship. Then, once all the life jackets were gone, they gave theirs away to soldiers who didn't have any.

Survivors recall the four chaplains singing songs and ministering to soldiers as the Dorchester began to slip into the icy North Atlantic.

It is that spirit of service and sacrifice that prompted VA institutions across the country to honor recently-departed veterans during the annual memorial services.

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