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Funeral service somewhere in Mexico. The chaplain has been identified as Timothy P. O'Keefe. (Millard McKinney, El Paso, Texas)

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Chaplain Thomas E. Swan and a Red Cross Worker offering candy and cigarettes to soldiers in a Glasgow, Scotland, hospital. (Emmett J. Scott, Scott's Official History of American Negro in the World War)

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Wayside Chapel somewhere near the front in France. (Emmett J. Scott, Scott's Official History of the American Negro in the World War)

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Black troops receiving Holy Baptism at Camp Gordon, Georgia. (Emmett J. Scott, Scott's Official History of the American Negro in the World War)

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Once upon a time, so a fourth century legend goes, a soldier named Martin of Tours encountered a beggar shivering from the cold; being a man of compassion, he removed his cloak, cut it into halves with his sword, and gave one half to the beggar. That night Martin had a vision of Christ wearing the half-cloak, which was suggestive of Matthew 25:38–40: “... the righteous (asked] 'Lord, when . . . did we see thee a stranger ... and clothe thee?' And the King [answered] ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it to me. ' As a result of the vision, Martin was converted to the Christian faith and devoted his life to the service of the Church. Sometime after his death, the Church canonized him, and he became the patron saint of France. His cloak was considered a sacred relic, and French kings carried it into battle. The officer in charge of the cappa or capella, as the cloak was called in Latin, was called chapelain, a title that was translated into English as “chaplain.”

Of the men who held the title, "Chaplain, United States Army," between 1865 and 1920, the overwhelming majority served God and man in much the same spirit as Martin of Tours. Whatever their personal level of competence as clergymen, they conscientiously endeavored to provide spiritual care for soldiers and their families. For various reasons, however, their presence was not always appreciated, especially between 1865 and 1898. Believing that their religious obligations had been fulfilled at West Point, some United States Military Academy graduates were indifferent to the ministry of the chaplains. Some even transferred their resentment for compulsory chapel attendance at the academy to the chaplains. In addition, widespread disgust as the system of making chaplain appointments was evident at all levels within the Army establishment, and rightly so. Political influence frequently resulted in the appointment of mediocre, unfit, or unworthy candidates rather than the best qualified. Equally significant, numerous officers considered any opposition by chaplains to the vices traditionally associated with the Army-profanity, Sabbath breaking, gambling, womanizing, and, particularly, intemperance--as an unnecessary and obnoxious irritant. Under the circumstances, it was no wonder that the chaplaincy was held

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