American Legion hosts celebration
ELKINS — H.W. Daniels Post 29 of Elkins celebrated the American Legion’s 99th birthday during an evening of fellowship with members and friends of the local club Saturday evening.
Arley Simmons, keynote speaker and chaplain for Post 29, spoke with guests of the anniversary celebration about the story of the “Four Chaplains” who sacrificed their lives to save other soldiers.
“This is really a great story about brave people who gave up their lives to save others,” Simmons said.
According to the Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation, four U.S. Army chaplains gave up their life jackets and prayed together when their transport ship — the U.S.A.T Dorchester — was torpedoed 80 miles south of Greenland on Feb. 3, 1943. Each of the chaplains came from different faiths and backgrounds — John P. Washington was a Catholic priest from New Jersey; Rabbi Alexander D. Goode was a native of Pennsylvania; Clark V. Poling was a minister at the First Reformed Church in Schenectady, New York; and George L. Fox was a Methodist minister in Vermont and decorated World War I veteran.
Simmons further emphasized the four individuals were selfless in their acts as they made great attempts to “calm the frightened and wounded” and “guide others toward safety.”
“‘Witnesses of that terrible night remember hearing four men offer prayers for the dying and encouragement for those who would live,’ said Wyatt Fox, son of Rev. Fox,'” he read. “According to those present, four Army chaplains brought hope in despair and light in darkness.”
According to the Memorial Foundation, 902 service men, merchant seamen and civilian workers were on board and 672 lost their lives.
Today, the Memorial Foundation exists to further the cause of “unity without uniformity” by encouraging goodwill and cooperation among all people. The organization strives to achieve its mission by advocating for and honoring people whose deeds symbolize the legacy of the four chaplains who came together to help others in 1943.
In November 2017, Simmons and Angelo Semenick were presented with plaques and special certificates, honoring and recognizing them as recipients of the Legion of Honor Award.
The Legion of Honor program publicly recognizes people whose lives model selfless service to the community, nation and humanity without regard to race, religion, nationality or creed.
In addition to celebrating the American Legion’s 99th birthday during Saturday’s event, two members of Post 29 were honored and recognized for their many years of dedication and membership. James McCloud has been a member for 50 years and Ward Cox has been a member for 60 years.
Post 29 recognized all past commanders present for the dinner as well as special guests including Willard Herron and Jake Roberts.
Boy Scout Troop 66 was thanked by Cmdr. Charles Ranew for presenting and retiring of the colors as well as their assistance during dinner, and children from the West Virginia Children’s Home were recognized and thanked for serving dinner to guests.