St. Paul's Episcopal Church Newsletter
Today at St. Paul's
August 17, 2020
THE GEORGE CABOT LEE, JR. WINDOW
Today we take a close look at the last of the St. Paul's windows, the George Cabot Lee, Jr. window. For myself, I always take great delight in telling children who are visiting St. Paul's for the first time that we have a dragon in the church, and then I invite them to search for it. As we take a closer look at this window, we also gain an understanding of heroism. St. George was a perfect choice for the Lee family to memorialize a son who died in war. Look closer and you will learn more about George Cabot Lee as well.
Yours in Christ,
George Cabot Lee, Jr. was born on July 20, 1929 to George Cabot Lee (1899-1970) and Kathleen Bowring Stoddart (1903-1999) in Chelsea, London, England. He would grow up in Westwood, Massachusetts. George was the oldest of four children. He graduated from Milton Academy and attended Harvard University. He, along with three other classmates of Milton, joined the armed forces. All four were killed in Korea. They are remembered in a memorial at Milton Academy.
George is remembered by his sister, Madeline Gregory, as a great older brother. By all accounts, people adored him. The last time that Madeline saw him was at her wedding, where he served as an usher. He is recalled as a kind, principled and good individual who died too young.
George died on December 15, 1952 in Korea. It is believed that he was killed in another battle as he is listed in his obituary as "killed in action". As to which battle, this is unclear. George had been planning to return home for Christmas. One of the heartbreaking aspects of his death was that he had purchased Christmas presents for his family that arrived following the news of his death.
George was laid to rest in Mount Auburn Cemetery.
(The inscription on George's gravestone reads
"In a short time, he fulfilled a long time")
St. George is the patron saint of England, Portugal, Aragon, Genoa, the Boy Scouts, Farmers, Knights and Soldiers.
The most well-known story associated with St. George is his defeat of a dragon (a symbol of the devil). One of the symbols of defeat is have your heel planted on your opponent. Here, you can see St. George has not only one foot—but both feet firmly planted on the dragon.
St. George came from a second-century Christian family and grew up to be an officer in the Roman army. At that time, so the story goes, a dragon was terrorizing a part of Libya and demanding human sacrifices. Villagers drew straws to determine the next victim, and one day the choice fell on a princess. She was dressed in her finest clothes and led to the dragon's lair.
Fortunately, George happened to be riding by on his white horse. After making the sign of the cross, he attacked and wounded the dragon with his lance; then, drawing his sword, he beheaded the beast with a single blow. So inspired were the villagers by George's bravery, that they all became Christians.
George's reputation grew during the crusades when knights and soldiers chose him to represent Christian chivalry. He represents the triumph of good over evil and is often shown with a red cross on his armor or on his flag. In the case of the George Lee window, the cross is on George's shield. The red cross on the white background is known as St. George's Cross. It was also associated with the Knights Templar. The red cross on a white background is also known as a Crusader Cross. This cross was adopted as the flag of England. You can see it today, embedded in the Union Jack.
(Here is St. George decked out in a plethora of crusader crosses. This is a miniature from a manuscript of Vies de Sants, c. 1340 (BNF Richelieu Manuscripts Francais 185)
THE BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL, KOREA
This portion of the window depicts the Battle of Bunker Hill, in which George Cabot Lee was mortally wounded. It is, perhaps, one of the few stained glass windows in a church in which you will see machine guns depicted. Perhaps the soldier at the front is George Lee, who commanded a platoon. Notice how the hand is pointing directly to the medal of the silver star.
The Battle of Bunker Hill was fought between August 9 - September 30, 1952 during the Korean War between United Nations and Chinese forces over several frontline outposts. This battle contained some of the fiercest fighting of the Korean War between American troops and the Chinese. The unit involved was the 1st Marine regiment, to which George belonged.
The United States commander of the battle was General John T. Seldon. By the end, the United States would have 96 killed versus over 4,000 Chinese casualties (though the United Nations estimates the number to be closer to 3,900 Chinese casualties).
George Lee was injured on either August 17th or 18th of the battle (both dates were listed in letters to the family). However, his death from injuries sustained in the battle wasn't until December 15, 1952.
(George C. Lee is on the right)
The Aftermath of the Battle: Despite regular small ambushes and artillery attacks, UN forces would hold Bunker Hill until the end of the war. Bunker Hill lay within the Korean Demilitarized Zone, set out in the Korean Armistice Agreement.
There are three medals depicted in the George Lee window. I am grateful for the assistance of John Woodard (who is a Marine veteran) who helped to identify these medals and provided information.
This medal is the Purple Heart awarded for being wounded or posthumously if killed in action.
A letter from George Lee's Commanding Officer reads:
"In the name of the President of the United States, and by direction of the Secretary of the Navy, the Purple Heart Medal is awarded by the Commanding Office, 1st Marine Division (Resr), Fleet Marine Force to:
Second Lieutenant George C. LEE, Jr.
For wounds received as a result of enemy action in the Korean Arena
..........on 17 August, 1952.
By copy hereof and in accordance with the provisions of reference, the Commandant of the Marine Corps is requested to forward your permanent Purple Heart Certificate to you.
John Woodard writes: "(This) is the emblem of the First Marine Division, which I believe was the only Marine Division sent to Korea. A Marine Division is commanded by a general and consists of three regiments and various support units (tanks and artillery). As I recall George Lee was a Marine infantry platoon commander, which would be at the company level after battalion and regiment levels.
The third medal is a Silver Star, which is the third highest medal awarded only for valor, which he may have received posthumously.
A citation, awarding the Silver Star Medal to George's family reads:
"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving with a Marine Infantry company in KOREA on 18 August 1952. Serving as a platoon commander, Second Lieutenant LEE exhibited exceptional heroism and leadership when assigned the mission of defending a section of an important hill position against repeated fanatical enemy attacks. With no concern for his personal safety, he exposed himself to intense enemy fire to deploy his men in the most advantageous manner. Although seriously wounded and partially blinded, he refused evacuation and continued to call in supporting mortar and artillery fire which inflicted many casualties upon the enemy. Second Lieutenant LEE's selfless devotion to duty and leadership were inspirational to all who observed him and materially contributed to the successful defense of the position. His gallant and courageous actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
Major General, U.S Marine Corps
In addition to these medals, George Lee also earned:
The National Defensive Service Medal which was established by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on April 22, 1953. At the time of its creation, the medal was intended for eligible members of the Armed Forces who serviced between June 27, 1950 and July 27, 1954. Eligibility was subsequently expanded to include service members who have served honorably during a designated period of national emergency or war, or to other active military members at the discretion of the Secretary of Defense. The National Defense Service Medal is the oldest service medal in use by the United States Armed Forces.
The Korean Service Medal which is a military award for service in the United States Armed Forces and was created in November 1950 by executive order of President Harry Truman. The Korean Service Medal is the primary US military award for participation in the Korean War and is awarded to any US service member who performed duty in South Korea between June 27, 1950 and
July 27, 1954.
The United Nations Korean Service Medal is an international military decoration established by the United Nations on December 12, 1950 as the United Nations Service Medal.
A Facimile of the Korean Presidential Unit Citation awarded to the First Marine Division for service 1950-1952: The Presidential Unit Citation, originally called the Distinguished Unit Citation, is awarded to units of the uniformed services of the United States, and those of allied countries, for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy on or after 7 December 1941. The unit must display such gallantry, determination, and esprit de corps in accomplishing its mission under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions so as to set it apart from and above other units participating in the same campaign.
(Some of George's medals. From L to R Silver Star, Purple Heart, United Nations Korean Service Medal)
THE TOP OF THE GEORGE C. LEE WINDOW
The Eagle, Globe, and Anchor is the official emblem and insignia of the United States Marine Corps. It is commonly referred to as an EGA. The current emblem traces its roots in the designs and ornaments of the early Continental Marines as well as the United Kingdom's Royal Marines. The emblem depicted here is (fittingly) the one used prior to 1955. The present emblem of the Eagle, Globe and Anchor depicts the eagle in a slightly different position.
The Eagle represents the proud nation of the United States of America. The wings of our national bird are outstretched over our coastlines and within reach of the world.
The anchor points to the Marine Corps' naval heritage and its ability to access any coastline in the world.
The Globe shows the continents of the Western Hemisphere and represents worldwide service.
Above the eagle are the words "Semper fidelis", a Latin phrase that means "always faithful" or "always loyal". It is the motto of the United States Marine Corps, usually shortened to "Semper Fi."
A WILBUR HERBERT BURNHAM WINDOW
The Lee Window is yet another creation of Wilbur Herbert Burnham.
Wilbert Herman Burnham is the artist who designed several of the stained glass windows in St. Paul's. Burnham lived in Massachusetts and had a studio in Boston. He was born in 1884. From the East Boston High School, Wilbur Burnham went to the Massachusetts School of Art. He began his work as a designer of stained glass in 1906, while attending art school. In later years Mr. Burnham studied in France, England, Italy and Spain.
This master craftsman has done outstanding work in churches and colleges. He has created great windows for the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, Washington Cathedral, the Riverside Church in New York, Princeton University, Trinity Cathedral of Cleveland, the American Church of Paris, and Belleau Chapel in France, and, of course, St. Paul's, Dedham. The list of Mr. Burnham's work is long and illustrious. He stands in the forefront of the American Renaissance of the stained glass window.
It seems fitting that a prayer for George Lee be the "Thanksgiving for Heroic Service" found on p. 839 of The Book of Common Prayer.
O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.