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Area Clergy To Be Honored

Clergy Appreciation Month February 2021

In observance of Clergy Appreciation Month, the local Fort Dodge Civitan Club is asking the citizens of the city to say thank you to their ministers for their service and dedication they do.

The idea for Clergy Week is to help promote world brotherhood and religious understanding among all people, regardless of religious persuasion. It is a time when we can reflect upon our individual religious beliefs and to promote an understanding and acceptance of the rights of others to participate in a religion different from our own.

On Feb. 3, 1943, 78 years ago, the USS Dorchester carried four men of God, one a Catholic, one Jewish, and two Protestant aboard and 905 American servicemen bound for Greenland. A Nazi submarine, stalking the ship undetected, took this opportunity to fire a torpedo straight toward the ship’s flank. The missile struck amidships and exploded in the boiler room. Many on board died instantly; some were trapped below deck. Others, jolted from their bunks, half asleep clambered to reach the decks of the stricken vessel. The ship, taking on water rapidly, began listing to starboard. Because security reasons prevented use of distress flares, escort vessels, still close enough to assist, pushed on into the darkness, unaware that the Dorchester was sinking. Overcrowded lifeboats capsized; rafts drifted away before anyone could reach then.

On deck, the four Army chaplains, George L. Fox, Alexander D. Goode, Clark V. Poling and John P. Washington moved about calming frightened men, directing bewildered soldiers to lifeboats, and distributing life jackets with calm precision. Soon the supply of jackets was exhausted, yet four young soldiers were still without life vests. Quickly the chaplains stripped off their own and forced them upon the young soldiers.

Therefore, Civitan International, located in Birmingham, Alabama, has declared the month of February 2021 as International Clergy Appreciation and urge all citizens to thank their clergy for the work they do. The local Civitan club has been in existence since 1968 and does projects for the mentally and physical disabled of the community as well as community projects. The club normally meets weekly at a local restaurant but due to COVID has been still getting together in a park during the fall or Zoom meetings at this time of the year to continue to still support those in this community.

Nancy Leo is the president of the Fort Dodge Civitan Club.

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