01 NOV ‘19 – marks one year as the Executive Director of the Four Chaplain Memorial Foundation. I have many fond memories such as; watching Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale be awarded the Gold Medallion at our annual banquet, hosting a Veteran Mental Health and Financial Literacy Symposium at the Chapel, collaborating with “Leashes of Valor” to raise money for Veteran Service Dogs and many more. However, my favorite memory was being able to spend an afternoon with Mr. Charles Kahn, Jr. in his home.
In 1950, Mr. Kahn was on the committee who had the vision to create this foundation and preserve the story of “the Four Chaplains” and to remind the world of the power of selfless service and interfaith cooperation. In 1947, plans were underway to build the “Chapel of Four Chaplains” on the campus of Temple University. The centerpiece of its design was an Alter that could rotate to accommodate a Protestant, Catholic and Jewish service. It took four more years to see their dream come to fruition but on February 3, 1951, President Truman traveled to Philadelphia to sign the organizational proclamation.
Well 68 years later we are in a new home, a new Chapel, but the mission remains the same. Tell the Story, host interfaith events, celebrate the selfless service of others, and above all else honor those who have served especially our Veterans. I am proud to be the Director and I challenge all of you to help me finish the job of preparing our Chapel for visitors and guests. In 2020, my goal is to open the Chapel for visitors 7-days a week from Memorial Day through Labor Day. My main needs are finishing painting the Chapel, re-carpeting and refurbishing the floors, adding a second bathroom and above all else mounting the large Bronze plaques, which honor those, that died on that fateful night in 1943. Help me tell their story by preparing our Chapel for the next generation to come through our doors and hear this incredible story of love, selfless service and interfaith cooperation. I believe our Chapel is a “living Legacy” of what is good about America.
At the end of my visit with Mr. Kahn I asked him what he would most like to be remembered for since joining the board almost seven decades ago – he said, “I hope in my own modest way I made life a little bit better for those that will follow me.” I know both Charlie and Barbara Kahn are beloved by everyone who have had the privilege to meet them and I feel honored to be able to lead an organization they hold dearly.
- My theme for 2020 is Operation: “Back to the Future.” Here are my three Main Objectives: Return our story to Temple University by hosting a Four Chaplain Event on campus. Also, involve Temple students in events at our Chapel to teach them a great part of their history.
- Complete the projects in the Chapel mentioned above so that we can offer a full-tour program of the Chapel from Memorial Day – Labor Day.
- Continue to focus on improving our Four Core areas: Youth Scholarship, Chaplain Training, Legion of Honor Awards and Veteran Outreach Programs.
Remember, we all share in the legacy of these Four Chaplains. Please become a member and support our mission. I thank you for your past and future support.
Let us reach our objectives of Operation 2020: “Back to the Future.” – Bill Kaemmer, Executive Director