When the American Legion discovered that killed-in-action and deceased active-duty ministers and priests are honored with memorials on Chaplain’s Hill at Arlington National Cemetery, they wondered where was the memorial for rabbis. An American Legion representative called the JWB-Jewish Chaplains Council, asking if it could be true that no rabbis have died in service to our country. He was confused; he knew one of the transformational moments in American life was the heroic sacrifice of the four chaplains of troop ship USS Dorchester, torpedoed at 12:55 a.m. on 3 February 1943, off the coast of Greenland. Each of the four chaplains spontaneously gave his lifejacket to another soldier, and they perished together so that others might live. The chaplains represented three faith traditions–two Protestants, a Catholic, and a Jew–and their death was the first time the term “Protestant, Catholic and Jew” was used to describe America. Three of the four are memorialized on Chaplain’s Hill, but neither the rabbi nor the other 12 rabbis who died on active service are so remembered.
That conversation took place two years ago. Working with the American Legion and the Jewish War Veterans, JWB has raised the funds to establish a memorial. Last June, our plans were approved by the superintendent of the cemetery in writing, but then he was removed for unrelated reasons. The new superintendent and her staff have been most helpful within the limitations of a decades-old law ignored by her predecessor, which requires a concurrent resolution of Congress for all new memorials at Arlington.
House Concurrent Resolution 12 and Senate 4 are matching resolutions entered by N.Y. Representative Anthony Weiner and N.Y Senator Charles Schumer, calling for just such a memorial. This is a bipartisan effort, and our dream is to have every member of Congress, both the House and Senate contacted on 3 Feb or very near that date to honor the Four Chaplains of the USS Dorchester.
The only way that will happen is if you call your Representative and both your Senators and ask them to cosponsor H.C.R. 12 and S. 4. Your support can be a critical part of this effort. You can make it possible for Rabbi Alexander Goode’s name to join his brothers in sacrifice, Father Washington, and Reverends Poling and Fox, all of them of blessed memory. Together we can establish a name and a memorial for those rabbis who helped secure our place in our great land, and from whose full measure of service we have been so richly blessed.
Please just make these three calls today to you Representative and Senators. Last December we had over 20 cosponsors in one week before Congress adjourned. We are told we need just 100 Representatives in the House to break H.C.R.12 out of committee and compel floor action, your Representative could make all the difference.
For Beth Tikvah’s community, that is
Senator Saxby Chambliss
Senator Johnny Isakson
And most of us are in the Sixth Congressional District, Representative Tom Price
To find your district in Georgia, go to http://georgiainfo.galileo.usg.edu/gacongressdelegation.htm
And for my rabbi friends and colleagues, just so you know…Rabbi Goode was ordained from HUC in Cincinnati in 1937.
To see a copy of the actual the resolution being proposed, contact Rabbi Robinson at: HLRobinson@JCCA.ORG.
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