CL-41 Tribute Home

USS Philadelphia
Chaplain's Letters to Shipmates

24 March 1944

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Good Afternoon Shipmates,

At times there are few things more frightening than a blank sheet of paper. Remember long ago in your school days; the spotless examinations paper awaiting your desecrating brain child. Remember how you bit your boyish nails, chewed the end of your pen, gazed about the classroom with glassy eyes, looked again at those pitiless questions on the blackboard and put a curse on education with all its works and pomps? Then there was that delicate letter to be sent your light-o-love! How you struggled and wrestled, erased and rejected, trying to say the harsh truth or the lovely endearments according to your love stock in the heart market. Yes a blank sheet of paper can speak volumes, tell you how dumb you are, how poorly creative, how weakly imaginative. So you can understand as I chewed on pencil, scratched air, welcomed distraction and wondered what in blazes is worth while saying today. Let's see now. Well we've talked about Vesuvius, you can see Vesuvius, you can wash, eat, and breathe Vesuvius, so phooky on Vesuvius. In fact you can have my share of all volcanoes activity and infamous. Yes I know yesterday I raved over its magnificence. That was yesterday. Today the word is wash it off the Philly and give it back to the Italians.

We haven't talked about magazines or told you that well over a hundred and fifty recent magazines have been distributed among the crew within the past ten days. If you've seen none of these, it is simply because they are not being passed around. There are plenty of magazines and reading matter coming aboard in the mails. Please pass them around. If you don't know where to pass it, just leave it at the 1st Lt's office. There are hundreds aboard who would like to have it. Or drop it in my room 215. Men in sick bay would sure appreciate your cooperation. There's no such thing as an old magazine to a sick sailor. I'll take'em torn tattered worn, outdated ready for the incinerator keep'em passing or give them to me when yours thru with them.

Well here we are with two pages almost filled. But certainly some comment should be made on that editorial in the press news this morning. The one from Washington. It more or less implied that the poor Germans are all but helpless. Well I wish they'd tell that to the krouts still clinging to the tiny toeholds around Cassino, tell it to the Russians, who have strained every assembly line, muscle, and engine to accomplish the destruction of the German Army, and haven't succeeded. Yes Russian soil is being cleared, but of late the Germans have not been trapped in any large nos, No lets not fall into the civilian error of rosy dreams and Pollyanna musings. We'll win this war one way defeating and destroying the German Army and the Jap Army and Navy on the field of battle or on the open sea. They will not suffer defeat by a flood of optimistic printers ink. In closing let me read you a prayer handed me by one of us last night. It's called Prayer for Mothers.

To my Country and to World Freedom, O heavenly Father, have I bequeathed this boy of mine. He is my choicest treasure. Take care of him, O Almighty God. I once warmed him to my breast. Do Thou warm him anew under his shelter and under the stars. Silent and alone, I pray, but I am only one of millions of mothers whose prayers stream night and day to Thee. This is our Gethsemane. Lead us victoriously through it. And lead that boy of mine through his. Strengthen him, Almighty God, and may he not fail thee, his Country, nor the mother who bore him. Amen.

D.J. Burke