Radcliffe Alumnae Honored With Memorial Church Tablet

Alexander A. Pollen

A plaque honoring three Radcliffe alumnae who died during World War I was unveiled Sunday in Memorial Church.

More than eight decades after they perished in World War I, three Radcliffe alumnae were honored on Sunday with a tablet inside Memorial Church.

The women, who were nurses in the war, were not honored when the church was built in 1932 to memorialize Harvard students, graduates and faculty members who died in the line of duty.

“They, after 80 years, have now come to be commemorated with their brothers on our walls,” said Rev. Peter J. Gomes, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and minister in Memorial Church, in his annual Armistice Day address.

Gomes called the honor “an obligation of memory long overdue.”

The tablet honors Lucy Nettie Fletcher ’10, Ruth Holden ’11 and Helen Homans, a special student between 1908 and 1911. Fletcher died in France in 1918, Holden in Kazan, Russia in 1917 and Homan in Pontoise, France in 1918.

At the time of their deaths, the Radcliffe Quarterly said of the women: “They gave their lives for their country and its allies just as surely as if they had met death in the trenches.”

Alejandro G. Ruiz ’05, a ROTC cadet who attended the service, said the dedication was especially moving given the current state of military action in Afghanistan.

“I am grateful that there were people who were willing to sacrifice their lives for the nation,” he said.

Memorial Church was dedicated on Nov. 11, 1932, to peace and in memory of the men who died in World War I. A ceremony in commemoration of Harvard’s war dead is traditionally held on the Sunday nearest to Armistice Day.