VINTON — The Vinton chapter of the Books-and-Friends met recently at the Vinton Town Hall.
There were 11 members present and one guest. Those having November birthdays were recognized: Peggy Patterson Coulson and Phyllis Mulholand.
The November reading selection was “The Faith of the American Soldier” by Stephen Mansfield.This book examines the religious and spiritual issues in America’s wars and then considers what is lost to our military through a secular approach to battle. The author records the reflections and testimonies of men and women who have fought on the front lines from Lexington to Iraq. Regarding this book, Mansfield had the following to say, “This book is the product of a search for the meaning of the American warrior code and the faith that gave it birth. A nation’s warrior code is an extension of its soul, the embodiment of its highest ideals.”
Members listened and participated in a discussion led by guest facilitator John Jackson. John has served as a military chaplain so he has first-hand knowledge on the subject. He gave his thoughts regarding the role of chaplains in the military, the core values of the American soldier and how American culture has changed from one war to the next.
Jackson passed around a newspaper clipping with the pictures of four chaplains of the Dorchester whose stories were detailed in the book. This tale of the Dorchester chaplains was hailed by the author as “the best of what a military chaplain strives to be.”
The chaplains were aboard the American transport ship Dorchester on Feb. 2, 1943 heading through the icy North Atlantic just off the coast of Greenland when it was hit by a torpedo from a German submarine. Of the 902 soldiers she carried, only 230 men survived. As the ship slipped into the sea, the four chaplains linked arms, grasped the railing of the ship together, and began shouting encouragement to the men in the sea. One survivor, John Ladd, recalled it as “the finest thing I have seen or hope to see this side of heaven.” The author says that these chaplains showed self-sacrifice, broad-mindedness, spiritual passion, devotion to troops, and everything that embodies the highest that men of God in war hope to achieve and that they have set a vision of greatness for future generations. Visitors walking through the memorial chapel at the Pentagon or praying in the Community Chapel at West Point can look up at the stained-glass windows that celebrate the heroism of these four Dorchester chaplains.
The next meeting for members and guests will be Dec. 19 at 5 p.m. at Phyllis Mulholand’shome. “The Choice” by Nicholas Sparks is the book selection for December.