Imperishable Inheritance: Sermon at the Memorial Service for Norman Prince and the Lafayette Escadrille
By Rear Admiral Margaret Grun Kibben, CHC, USN
Chief of Navy Chaplains
(Note: Rear Admiral Kibben delivered the Sermon at the Centennial Memorial Service for Norman Prince and the Lafayette Escadrille on Friday, October 14, 2016, at the Washington National Cathedral. The following is the text of the sermon.)
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 ESV
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.
1 Peter 1:3-12 ESV
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. ...
Jesus said “Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.”
Rear Admiral Margaret Grun Kibben, CHC, USN, Chief of Navy ChaplainsA very good afternoon to all of you: members of the Prince family, representatives from the World War One Centennial Commission, and nos amis français. You have traveled from all corners of the world to give honor and tribute to Lieutenant Norman Prince, to share with his family the heritage from which they are privileged to have come, but perhaps most important, to remember all those who gave their lives in the war to end all wars, in sacrifice for the greater good. In this we are all inheritors, in as much as it is the legacy that they left which allows us the freedom to gather, which has preserved our countries’ liberty, and which has ensured that we maintain the privilege to worship freely the One who sustains us in the face of adversity and who remains with us throughout the ages.
In his 1896 Memorial Sermon, the Reverend Dr. John W. Sayers, Chaplain, Dept. of Pennsylvania, Grand Army of the Republic, shared this sentiment:
“Human life is of short duration. Of all our years but few may be devoted to the accomplishment of great purposes. ...
It is, therefore, not so much what men may accomplish in this life as it is what their work may do for the world after they are dead. ...
the good lives always to a noble purpose and keeps the world slowly moving toward the right.”
It would be 20 years later, when the few, whom we honor today, demonstrated their devotion to the accomplishment of great and noble purposes. The Great War which began as a local disturbance eventually spread into a worldwide struggle. And as war in Europe raged, it intensified through the use of dangerous new weapons which took over fields of livelihood and tranquility and turned them into desolate, trenched moonscapes littered with corpses and wreckage. But as horrified as Americans were with the ravages of war, they remained neutral, isolating themselves from any involvement.
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Four Questions for Commissioner Debra Anderson
"It’s important to remember all who serve our country"
By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission
Commissioner Debra AndersonDebra Anderson was recently appointed as a Commissioner of the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). She is the Quartermaster General of the VFW.
Tell us about your background, and your military career.
I attended the University of Missouri-Columbia on an ROTC scholarship, where I majored in economics. In May 1980 upon graduation, I was commissioned in the Army as an AG (Human Resources) Second Lieutenant. My military assignments included Nuremberg/Furth, Germany; Fort Harrison, Ind.; Fort Riley, Kan.; Fort Leavenworth, Kan.; and Fort McPherson, Ga. I deployed as part of the division headquarters with the 1st Infantry Division during Desert Storm in December 1990. I earned a master of science in systems management from the University of Southern California while in the Army.
Read more: Four Questions for Commissioner Debra Anderson
Remembering, Honoring First Americans to Fight, Die in World War One
By Jim Garamone
Via DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Oct. 19, 2016 — Norman Prince’s tomb is steps away from that of President Woodrow Wilson in the National Cathedral here.
Norman Prince was a founder of the Lafayette Escadrille, a group of American pilots who were part of the French air force during World War I. Library of Congress photo In 1916, when Wilson was running for re-election as president under the slogan “He Kept Us Out of War,” Norman Prince was wearing the uniform of France and flying for the Lafayette Escadrille.
It was the second year of what was then known as the Great War, and Prince, a Harvard-trained lawyer, journeyed to France to offer his services against the Germans. It was the year of the Somme, the year of Verdun. Millions of soldiers on both sides were dying on the fields of France.
Prince became one of them Oct. 15, 1916.
100 Years Later
On Oct. 14, 2016, the National Cathedral and the United States World War I Commemoration Commission hosted a memorial service for French Air Force Lt. Norman Prince. His crypt is near the altar of the huge edifice and is fronted by a marble statue of him.
The Prince family came out in force to remember their relative. Also attending were French and American airmen -- joined together by the sacrifice of the young man and others like him. Prince never wore an American uniform, but he could be called one of the fathers of the United States Air Force. He was one of those who suggested the French air force field a squadron of Americans who came to the country to fight.
And fight he did. Prince participated in 122 aerial engagements, shooting down five enemy aircraft, said Navy Chaplain (Rear Adm.) Margaret Grun Kibben, who delivered the homily at the service. He came from a privileged background, “but flying was in his blood,” she said.
Read more: Remembering, Honoring First Americans to Fight, Die in World War I