Legacy of Four Chaplains lives on through scholarship recipient

Dr. Tana Freeland Andre received the Four Chaplains Scholarship 16 years ago and does her best today to exemplify the principles by which the Four Chaplains lived and gave their lives.

Written by: Rebecca Hanlon
Paid for by: Four Chaplains Memorial of York County
Written by:
Rebecca Hanlon
Paid for by:
Four Chaplains Memorial of York County
Dr. Tana Freeland Andre, center, a 2004 recipient of the Four Chaplains Scholarship, speaks with Allen Damashek and Gordon Freireich during a past Four Chaplains Prayer Breakfast. (Submitted)

Dr. Tana Freeland Andre chose a career in medicine because she believes considering the needs of others is just as important as meeting our own.

Sixteen years ago, Andre received the Four Chaplains Scholarship award at the annual Four Chaplains Prayer Breakfast in York before heading off to college and eventually earning her doctorate.

Today, she’s a psychiatrist at an inpatient psychiatric hospital in a suburb of Philadelphia, where she continues to live by the values she saw in the Four Chaplains.

“It was an honor to think that I could exemplify the principles by which they lived and gave their lives,” she says. “I have tried to continue that to this day.”

Tana Freeland Andre attended Alexander D. Goode Elementary School and later earned her medical degree from University of Dentistry and Medicine in New Jersey. (Submitted)

The fate of the Four Chaplains

Dr. Andre knows the story well.

On Feb. 3, 1943, the U.S.A.T. Dorchester sunk in the icy Atlantic Ocean on its way to a base off the coast of Greenland. Though tragedy surrounded them, according to those present, four Army chaplains brought hope in despair and light in darkness.

Those chaplains were Lt. George L. Fox, Methodist; Lt. Alexander D. Goode, Jewish; Lt. John P. Washington, Roman Catholic; and Lt. Clark V. Poling, Dutch Reformed.

As the ship went down, survivors accounts say, the four chaplains linked arms. They had given their own life jackets to others. They offered prayers and messages of courage.

Of the 902 men aboard the ship, only 230 would survive. When the news reached American shores, the nation was stunned by the tragedy and the heroic actions of the four chaplains.

The story of the Four Chaplains, from their selfless sacrifice to their interfaith cooperation, has been shared since the late 1940s. (Courtesy of the Chapel of the Four Chaplains)

Serving others

Dr. Andre has tried to imagine how it felt to be on the sinking ship that day and the kind of courage it takes to give your life so that others may live.

“What the Four Chaplains stood for in their actions really resonated with me,” she says. “I often keep that in mind: We are not here simply to serve ourselves but to serve others.”

Before graduating from William Penn Senior High School in 2004, she attended Alexander D. Goode Elementary School in the York City School District, named in honor of the rabbi who had served at the York temple and died on the U.S.A.T. Dorchester.

“It was never just a name on the building,” Dr. Andre recalls. “We were taught who the Four Chaplains were and why it was important to live by their example.”

The Rev. Glenn Miller speaks during a past Four Chaplains Prayer Breakfast. (Submitted)

A local legacy

The Rev. Glenn Miller believes there’s something that makes the sacrifice mean so much more because Rabbi Goode was someone who served our own community.

“I think we always want to be looking for heroes in our lives,” says Miller, president of the board for the Four Chaplains Prayer Breakfast.

The York organization started about three decades ago, when a small committee gathered with the mission to honor the Four Chaplains and, in particular, Rabbi Goode.

Gordon Freireich, former editor of the York Sunday News, and Allen Damashek, a local businessman and director of the York Jewish Community Center, led the group, with the initial idea to host an event, invite a speaker, and raise money for a scholarship.

They never imagined the Four Chaplains Prayer Breakfast would become the annual event it is today, with hundreds of attendees, thousands of dollars awarded in scholarships, and an endowment fund with the York County Community Foundation.

The Four Chaplains Prayer Breakfast started about 30 years ago and has now become an annual event with hundreds of attendees, thousands of dollars awarded in scholarships, and an endowment fund with the York County Community Foundation. (Submitted)

Leaving a legacy

Each year, as the organization awards more scholarships to York City students, Miller hopes the recipients carry the legacy of the Four Chaplains with them as they pursue their callings, as Dr. Andre did.

And while the annual event honors the history of the Four Chaplains, Miller hopes it serves as an inspiration moving forward. Imagine the change we would see, he says, if we all lived with the goal of service above self.

“It’s an excellent reminder for us to consider what more we can do for our communities,” he says. “In the next 30 years, I hope we continue to look for ways to leave a legacy that counts.”

You’re invited to the Virtual Four Chaplains Prayer Breakfast: The Four Chaplains Memorial of York County invites you to attend the Virtual 2021 Four Chaplains Prayer Breakfast.

• Individual tickets will not be available for purchase to attend in-person because of social distancing guidelines.

• The community is invited to tune in for a virtual program, featuring guest speaker Vice Admiral (USN-Ret) DeWolfe “Chip” Miller, former Commander, Naval Air Forces, and Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Miller also is a 1977 York Suburban graduate.

• We also will be recognizing two community members with the Legion of Honor Membership for living the values of the Four Chaplains. They are Reverend Patrick Rooney and Mrs. Susan Krebs.

• A portion of the funds from the event sustains scholarships for two graduating seniors from York High who attended Alexander D. Goode School.

• The event will be live-streamed at 8 a.m., Wednesday, May 12 via Facebook. Click here for more information.

How to help: The Four Chaplains Prayer Breakfast aims to continue the legacy of the men who gave their lives. To learn how to be part of that mission, you may email yorkfourchaplains@gmail.com.

Donate: Financial contributions can be made online through Facebook or by check, payable to 4 Chaplains Memorial of York County, Unit: E #365, 204 St. Charles Way, York, PA 17402.

Paid for by Four Chaplains Memorial of York County