By Orlando A. Garcia, Captain (Retired) US Army, ALR 47 President, Havre de Grace, Maryland
The morning of April 11 was brisk and sunny as American Legion Riders from Posts 22 (Towson), 47 (Havre de Grace), 128 (Aberdeen), 130 (Perry Hall), and 135 (Perryville), gathered at the Joseph L. Davis American Legion in the heart of downtown Havre de Grace.
These Riders (a group comprised of Legionnaires, SAL and Auxiliary members) have come together to ride to the Chapel of the Four Chaplains at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The ride was inspired months earlier from the article in the February 2015 of the American Legion Magazine regarding the Chapel and the touching Four Chaplains ceremony hosted at the Havre de Grace Post. This is when Robert McCormick, ALR 47 Road Captain, and Lorstan “Rocky” Loewner, ALR 47 Membership Chairman, began their research and planning to make this trip possible.
The ride is planned to take us through Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania. Though it’s cooler and windier than we would like, this is our first opportunity of the year to ride together again as a group after the long and bitter winter. Our journey sets off from Havre de Grace without a hitch, but as we all know Murphy is always present. Not long into our ride, one of our rides has a bit of a bike problem and we pull in to the first bike shop on our route. And with grand fashion, smoke begins to rise from the bike. They tell us it will take a little bit to fix the problem, but as the main group begins to pull away flames shoot out from the bike. They were quickly extinguished and the rider with his battle-buddy and fellow Post ALR comrades were able to join us at the Chapel later.
As we pull into the Navy Yard, we are waved through and saluted by the solitary guard at the gate. Our bikes rumble into the parking lot of the Chapel and are warmly greeted by Ms. Christine Beady and Ms. Michelle Nolfi. Both ladies graciously welcome us and beacon us inside to walk the grounds and marvel at the multitude of memorabilia and commemorative items on display. We are all in awe at what is present and what it all means to both those who have given their all and to those who continue to serve. The Chapel of the Four Chaplains is the focal point for devotion, dedication, and sacrifice in the honor of service to our great nation.
Ms. Beady details the story of the Four Chaplains, the chapel, and the foundation. We are all moved by the sense and aura of the chapel. There is a sense of warmth and caring at the chapel. The feeling embraces us as we listen intently to Ms. Beady knowing what the chapel represents and what the chapel represents to not just the military members but to their families and the community. Ms. Beady and Ms. Nolfi lead us through the many facet of the chapel, explain what we see and touch, and answer our never-ending questions. What we thought would be a simple tour turned out to be a reflective and soul-touching encounter. We ask ourselves what we can do to help, what we can do to expand the mission of the chapel, there is much more we can all do to aid this selfless organization.
With a final thanks and expression of our gratitude to Ms. Beady and Ms. Nolfi, we meander to John’s Roast Pork in downtown Philly for a hearty, yet breezy and chilly, lunch alfresco. With full hearts and bellies, we set off down the road back to respective posts and home. We ponder the day’s ride, the moving story of the Four Chaplains, the awe of the chapel, and the outstanding camaraderie we experienced this fine day. This year’s riding season has kicked off on a high note for all of us.