The theme of this year’s Dundalk 4th of July Parade, Welcome Home Our Troops, resonates 365 days a year across the United States. The 78th annual parade was the perfect way to celebrate our freedom and to recognize the men and women who put their lives on the line in the name of “liberty and justice for all.”
One of the 2012 participants was Rabbi Jerry Seidler, a chaplain at LifeBridge Health. He and three other clergy were representing the men known as the Four Chaplains.
During World War II, a Catholic priest, a rabbi and two Protestant ministers were aboard the U.S.A.T Dorchester, when the ship was torpedoed by a German U-Boat and started sinking. Together, the chaplains helped soldiers and civilians into all of the available lifeboats and even gave up their own life jackets to save others. Then, they joined arms and their prayers were heard as they went down with the ship.*
“Theirs was a real story of valor and bravery, and I was honored to be asked to help represent them,” said Rabbi Seidler. “Thanks, in part to their heroic efforts, 230 soldiers and civilians out of 900 on the transport ship were saved that fateful night.”
Rabbi Seidler, who served in the Army from 1983 through 1987 in the military police and as a judge advocate, and again as a reservist from 1997 to 2001 as a rabbi, proudly wore his Army cap during the parade. He said that he was touched by how many people along the 2-1/2 mile parade route thanked him for his service. He, in turn, thanked those in uniform and their families for their sacrifices.
Despite the heat, Rabbi Seidler confirmed that a strong patriotic spirit was seen and felt throughout the morning.
The Dundalk Fourth Of July Parade is sponsored by The Heritage Association of Dundalk and The Dundalk Heritage Parade Committee and is hosted by The Optimist Club of Dundalk, Inc.
* For more information on the Four Chaplains and their heroic actions, click on http://www.fourchaplains.org/story.html
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