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Hero ShipEarly on the morning of February 2, 1943, a luxury liner (converted into an Army transport ship) named The Dorchester was carrying 902 service men. The vessel was about 150 miles from an American base in Greenland when a torpedo from a German submarine struck it. In less than twenty minutes, the Dorchester sank beneath the frigid waters of the North Atlantic. Tragically, 672 men died that day leaving only 230 survivors.

Hero ChaplinsFour of the men who lost their lives that horrible night were chaplains. Those Army chaplains were Lt. George Fox, Lt. Alex Goode, Lt. John Washington, and Lt. Clark Poling. Each of these four men willingly sacrificed his life for others.

When the torpedo hit, many were immediately killed and many more were seriously wounded. Panic and chaos overwhelmed the soldiers as men scrambled to the deck searching through the smoke and darkness for lifejackets.

Amidst the turmoil, the chaplains quickly spread out among the frightened men, tending to the wounded and guiding the disoriented to safety. They offered prayers and comforted the dying.

Hero Chaplins 2As they reached the deck of the ship, the four men began distributing lifejackets from the storage lockers. According to witnesses, when there were no more jackets available, they removed theirs and gave them to four young men. One survivor, John Ladd, said, “It was the finest thing I have seen or hope to see this side of heaven.”

Survivors in the nearby rafts said they could see the chaplains with their arms linked and praying as the ship went down.[1]

I love a good war story. Not because I love war but because stories of heroism and sacrifice inspire us. In fact, intuitively, you already know that for anything great to be accomplished, significant sacrifice almost always is required.

  • Martin Luther King sacrificed his life for the cause of equal rights.

  • Mother Teresa sacrificed her life for the poor.

  • Nelson Mandela sacrificed his freedom, spending twenty-seven years in prison to free his country from the grip of apartheid.

  • Hundreds of thousands of soldiers have sacrificed their lives for our freedom.

We recognize and honor these heroes, but we too often excuse ourselves from that kind of heroism by saying, “I’m no Mother Teresa!”

Hero Mother T PIN


For some, the idea of sacrificing their lives or their resources for someone else seems ludicrous. They might consider doing so for a child or maybe for a close friend, but when the torpedo hits, many people operate out of self-preservation rather than selfless sacrifice.

However, it’s imperative for you to understand that the uncommon life of a hero is one of sacrifice. In fact, a radical and extraordinary life is one in which you embrace a spiritual paradox: To get more out of life you must give more of your life.

Hero Cross PIN

Jesus put it this way, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?”[2]

Do you see the paradox here?

Jesus said that the path to true discipleship (and being a hero in His eyes) is a journey of self-denial, sacrifice, and loss, but it’s also the only way to real life.

By nature, we think joy and satisfaction are found in gathering and hoarding. We sometimes hold on to what we have and love with a death grip. But Jesus said to hold this life loosely if we want to live securely in His hand forever.

Forever. That’s a long time and a pretty good deal for a bunch of ragtag recovering idiots like you and me.

Sacrifice matters to God, to others, and to you. It matters in your marriage and in your family. In fact, it matters in all your relationships. It’s how you become a hero. So choose well. Live well. Be well.

Hero Beach Choose Well

Like what you’ve read here today?

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[1] Story and information taken from: http://www.fourchaplains.org

[2] Luke 9:23-25

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11 Responses to WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A HERO

  1. Hi Kurt:
    I enjoyed this war story. I am one of those women who say I am not Mother Theresa, just “cause when I do something is because I have the kindness and willingness of my heart to do it, there is this unconditional altruistic feeling. However, we live in a real world that eventually if you don’t claim your own heroism you will never aim for help. How many people who are recognized as heroes, they are at somebody else’s price, that’s what you are promoting. I have to go to the synagogue, and I hope you understand my message. I explain further later if interested, I do like the chapter of your book. Enjoy your wkd. Lily

    • Hi Lily, Thank you for your input. Just to be clear, by no means am I encouraging people to self-promote themselves into “hero” status. The story and my blog simply encourages sacrifice for the benefit of others. Hope that helps you understand my goal. Blessings!

  2. I think being parents are heros…I think trying to raise kids in this messed up world to be good honest helpful loving Christians is about the toughest job out there. It is a struggle every day to not hold tight to your kids & not let go.
    I know I struggle with this constantly & in an emotional war as we speak..but u certainly don’t feel a hero I feel like a failure

    • Hi Kelly, I SO agree! Parents (including you) are heroes. They sacrifice, serve, care and unconditionally love their kids…a hero for sure. Still praying for you and yours. You are loved.

  3. Okay, this is my first time at this. What you are talking about, Kurt, is tough for us guys. When we think of a hero we think of going in a blaze of glory and looking really great and being greatly admired. What Jesus talks about is something different. When He warned Peter about his coming denials and said he was praying to God, He didn’t pray God would save peter from the denials but, that he would have strength do bounce back. Jesus then told Peter that when he came back he was to use the experience to help and support his brothers. That’s not what we think of as a hero, we want to save face and we forget Judas died to save face and Peter “died” to live.

  4. Hero:1.

    a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.

    So, sitting around the campfire with a bunch of guys, and the question arises as to whom each considers a hero. Sports figures, political figures, etc., etc., etc. are offered. My turn came and I said Jesus. You should have heard the silence. It was deafening!!! In my mind, Jesus is the most wonderful example of “hero”. The night He was arrested, He prayed for you and me (see John 17). He was not considering Himself, He thought of those around Him and all future generations. He took the sins of the world upon Himself and made sure that those that believed in Him would see favor in the eyes of the Father. It is not a myth, it is a fact. Thank you Kurt for the wisdom of your words!!!

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