Statue of St. Joan of Arc at Queens Church Stands in Memory of Heroic WWI Chaplain

Throughout World War I, Catholics in the French village of Ban-de-Laveline had no pastor, because their priest was taken hostage by the Germans. But in 1918, a U.S. Army chaplain from Brooklyn came to bury 18 of his men killed in action, and a special bond formed between the village and a new parish in Jackson Heights, Queens.

Poet of ‘Trees’ a Catholic Convert, Humble Soldier, and ‘Gallant Soul’

When the U.S. entered the war in 1917, Joyce Kilmer was 30 years old, a poet famous for writing “Trees,” and the father of five children, including a 5-year-old daughter paralyzed from polio. He didn’t have to fight in France, but he did. He deployed with the Fighting 69th Infantry Brigade just four years after converting to Catholicism.

‘Great War’ Brought US Catholics Into Mainstream

World War I was dubbed “the Great War” because of the near-global scale of the fighting. Some called it “the World War,” and many had thought it was “the war to end all wars.” But its status as World War I was cemented when World War II commenced just 21 years after it ended.