The Four Chaplains, also sometimes referred to as the “Immortal Chaplains” or the “Dorchester Chaplains” were four United States Army chaplains who gave their lives to save other civilian and military personnel as the troop ship USAT Dorchester sank on February 3, 1943, during World War II. They helped other soldiers board lifeboats and gave up their own life jackets when the supply ran out. The chaplains joined arms, said prayers, and sang hymns as they went down with the ship.
In 1988, February 3 was established by a unanimous act of Congress as an annual “Four Chaplains Day.” Some state or city officials commemorate the day with official proclamations, sometimes including the order that flags fly at half-mast in memory of the fallen chaplains. In some cases, official proclamations establish observances at other times: for example, North Dakota legislation requests that the Governor issue an annual proclamation establishing the first Sunday in February as “Four Chaplains Sunday.”