One hundred four years ago, Founder Member, Lt. Albert S.J. Steele was last in France, serving as a member of the 90th Aero Squadron. On Memorial Day, Sunday, May 29, 2022, his wings were returned for the first time in 104 years, in a solemn, beautiful service, at the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial Cemetery, just outside Paris.
Considered by many to represent the birthplace of American Combat Aviation, the Lafayette Escadrille defended Europe before America formally entered World War One. Today, the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial Cemetery, one of 26 cemeteries around the world meticulously maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission, stands first among equals, as a powerful reminder that we owe an enormous debt to the men and women who built the foundation upon which all Daedalians stand today.
Lt Steele was not a member of the Lafayette Escadrille, joining the fight after they arrived. However, he and all others like him, were courageous patriots who ask for just one thing today; to be remembered.
The Lafayette Escadrille Memorial Cemetery, and any of the other sacred cemeteries and memorials operated by the American Battle Monuments Commission, offers a unique opportunity to reflect on the past, and to teach future generations.
Returning Lt Steele’s wings to France was a unique honor. Remembering him, and all those who served before us, is a unique responsibility that Daedalians all share.
Dan Woodward is a retired Air Force Brigadier General and Commissioner with the American Battle Monuments Commission. His wife, retired Air Force Major General Maggie Woodward is the Granddaughter of Founder Member, Lt Albert S.J.Steele.