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Alfred Joyce Kilmer

Alfred Joyce Kilmer
Date of Death:
July 30, 1918
Columbia College
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Sergeant Alfred Joyce Kilmer, Headquarters Company, 165th Infantry, U.S. Army, was killed in action in France on July 30, 1918. At the time of his death, Kilmer was considered the leading American Catholic poet and lecturer of his generation, Joyce Kilmer is best known for a poem entitled "Trees," published in a collection entitled Trees and Other Poems (1914). At Columbia, he was vice president of the Philolexian Society, was associate editor of Columbia Spectator, the campus newspaper, and was a member of the Debating Union. After graduating, he wrote book reviews for the New York Times, The Nation, and other publications and worked on the Funk & Wagnall's dictionary. He married shortly after graduation and was the father of five children, one of whom had died shortly before he left for France. Though he was eligible for commission as an officer and was often recommended for commission during the course of the war, Kilmer refused, stating that he would rather be a sergeant in the Fighting 69th than an officer in any other regiment.

Before his departure, Kilmer had contracted with publishers to write a book about the war, deciding upon the title Here and There with the Fighting Sixty-Ninth. He never had a chance to write it. A sniper's bullet to the head killed him near Muercy Farm, beside the Oureq River near the village of Seringes, in France, on July 30, 1918. He was thirty-one years old. Kilmer was posthumously awarded the Croix de Guerre. He was buried in the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial, near Fere-en-Tardenois, France. A funeral for him was held at Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York City.