February 3, 2011 Veterans History Project Recognizes Military Chaplains with New Web Feature
Contact: Tom Wiener (202) 707-0977 | Lisa Taylor (202) 707-2333
Nurture the living. Care for the wounded. Honor the dead. These are the core competencies of military chaplaincy – a critical, yet often overlooked, form of military service. The latest installment of the Veterans History Project’s (VHP) Experiencing War website feature, titled “Chaplains: On a Divine Mission,” launches today, also recognized as “Four Chaplains Day,” on the 68th anniversary of the sinking of the U.S. Army transport ship Dorchester. The website feature, one of 33 created thus far, highlights the wartime stories of 15 veterans who served as military chaplains, answering the call to serve in more ways than one. These remarkable stories are digitized and accessible on VHP’s site, www.loc.gov/vets/. Retired military chaplains from various branches will share their experiences at noon on Tuesday, Feb. 15, in LJ 119, located on the first floor of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public. “The four chaplains were a group of remarkable spiritual leaders from different denominations on board the ill-fated Dorchester during World War II. They sacrificed their lives to save scores of others and were seen praying arm-in-arm as the ship sank,” said Veterans History Project Director Robert Patrick. “The Veterans History Project is honored to present this latest web feature on the anniversary of that historic event to draw attention to the many military chaplains who, like the four chaplains, serve with selflessness and unyielding faith without regard to their fellow soldiers’ religious beliefs.” One of the veterans spotlighted is Navy Chaplain Peter McGeory, a Catholic priest who served during the Persian Gulf and Iraq/Afghanistan eras. McGeory shares some of his most memorable experiences recovering the bodies of fallen sailors after a catastrophic incident and counseling survivors in the wake of another. World War II Army Chaplain Eugene Daniel tells the harrowing tale of his days spent as a prisoner of war – still allowed to exercise his chaplaincy duties while in captivity. Vietnam War Chaplain’s Assistant Kenneth Martin recounts his experiences in the Army as a closeted gay soldier struggling with the teachings of his Southern Baptist upbringing and having to counsel other soldiers who were being discharged due to their sexual orientation. Each veteran featured in “Chaplains: On a Divine Mission” describes his personal wartime experience of providing a service within the service and ministering to people of all faiths, while remaining true to his own beliefs. In addition to the website feature launch, VHP is sponsoring another related event during the month. On Wednesday, Feb. 16 at 11 a.m., Interfaith Alliance and VHP will co-host a panel to explore issues facing today’s military chaplaincy at the Cannon House Office Building, Room 340, located at 283 First St., S.E., Washington, D.C. This event is also free and open to the public. Congress created VHP in 2000 to collect, preserve and make accessible the first-hand remembrances of America’s wartime veterans from WWI through the current conflicts, so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. For more information, visit www.loc.gov/vets/ or call the toll-free message line at (888) 371-5848. Subscribe to the VHP RSS to receive periodic updates of VHP news. Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to advance the knowledge and creativity of the American people through its collections, programs and services. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov and via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at myLOC.gov.