About the Service of Remembrance

History of the Service of Remembrance

Honoring the alumni, student and members of the Princeton University faculty and staff whose deaths were recorded by the University during the previous calendar year, the Service of Remembrance was first held in 1919 in the University's Marquand Chapel before it burned down in 1920. While records are not clear if intermittent services were held in the following years, the Service became an annual event after World War II beginning in 1946 in the University Chapel, which was completed in 1928 to replace Marquand.

The Memorial Address

The Memorial Address is traditionally given by a member of the 25th Reunion Class. This year the Address will be delivered by Father Joseph Thomas ’99.

The Memorial Procession

During the Service of Remembrance is the Memorial Procession, composed of representatives from every undergraduate and alumni class, the Graduate School, the Princeton faculty and staff — led by Mary Newburn ’97, chair of the Committee on the Service of Remembrance; Monica Moore Thompson '89, president of the Alumni Association of Princeton University; and the committee members. Each member of the procession carries a symbolic white carnation that is placed inside the Memorial Wreath, remembering all of those who were added to the University's memorial roll in 2023 and in past years.

Processional Kites

Beautiful, whimsical and colorful Processional Kites Band representing elements of the earth, are carried and "flown" in the Chapel by students from the University Chapel Choir before the service begins.

  • The red kite represents "fire."
  • The blue kite represents "water."
  • The green kite represents "earth."
  • The white kite represents "air."

Artist Juanita Kauffman painted the fabric for the kites as well the Chapel's six hanging banners, and the kites were constructed by Martin Blais, a kitemaker in Tennessee. In addition to the Service of Remembrance, the kites are also incorporated into many University events held in the Chapel, including Opening Exercises and Baccalaureate.

About the Princeton University Chapel

The Princeton University Chapel is the religious and ceremonial center for the University. Completed in 1928, the Chapel is the third largest university chapel in the world. It is the home of regular religious services for many of the University's faith groups, including the 277-year-old ecumenical Christian worshiping community that founded Princeton in 1746, and meets every Sunday at 11:00 a.m. A place of grace and of peace, the Chapel is open to all people. There is seating for approximately 1,300 people, including 90 in the balcony.