When I served in the Oregon National Guard, I filled a “dual status” position. I was hired as a civilian federal technician to be a military science professor at Portland State University to instruct ROTC cadets. But in order to hold the position, I also had to serve in the Oregon Guard. In the Guard, I held the position of the state’s senior master religious affairs specialist. Basically, I had to be “in the Guard” to fill the civilian Fed Tech position. Thus, “dual status.”
Well the Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation also holds a “dual status” role in Philadelphia. The Chapel of Four Chaplains hosts veteran symposiums, weddings, funerals, memorial services, lectures, concerts, church services, tours and, just recently, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Scout spring retreat (during which I earned two ribbons, shown below). So, the Chapel has a vital role in serving Philadelphia. It is truly becoming a “City Center” for the Navy Yard.
Yet, the Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation plays a much bigger role. Its mission is to:
“Tell the story of the Four Chaplains to promote interfaith cooperation and selfless service in individuals and organizations.”
We often recognize individuals and organizations through our nationwide Legion of Honor Program, which is highlighted each year at our annual banquet.
As the executive director of the Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation and Chapel of Four Chaplains, I know what a special organization this has been since its inception in 1951. Yet, during this coronavirus pandemic, I need your help. During this trying time, I hope our members, friends and the Philadelphia community will continue to support our organization, through memberships and donations. We will need your thoughtful support during this time to help us continue to function in our “dual status” role. I believe our message is needed more now than ever before. The message of HOPE.
In the U.S. Army, every officer, except the chaplain, goes into battle as a combatant. The chaplain is not only a noncombatant, but he or she is the only officer whose job is to bring hope, faith and salvation to the fight as their primary weapons. I have worked with hundreds of chaplains in my 29-year career in the Army Chaplain Corps. Each and everyone knew the story of the Four Chaplains. I often speak to chaplains about “living their call,” meaning, “Are you called to the ministry? Are you called to serve soldiers?” Because when the ship is sinking you will not have time to decide. The Four Chaplains were “called” and knew exactly what they had to do February 3, 1943: Give soldiers, seamen and civilians hope!
I also believe others can be called to serve. I hope during these challenging times you not only feel called to support the foundation but are called to support those in your workplace and neighborhood. As a religious affairs specialist, my role was to support the chaplain so he could focus on preaching, counseling and praying for soldiers. I need you to help me fill the role of a religious affairs specialist in your community and help bring needed support to friends, family and neighbors.
MSG (USA Ret) Bill Kaemmer