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This Is Why We Stand: Sergeant Alvin York.


It is no coincidence that the First World War ended a year and a half after the United States committed its forces to the battlefields of a war torn Europe. Sergeant Alvin York was one of those brave Americans who brought American ideals to the fight against a firmly committed enemy.

York originally resisted serving in the war because of his religious principles. His request to be a conscientious objector was denied and in May of 1918, York was in France with the 82nd division of the U.S. Army.

On October 8, 1918, York and 17 other Americans had captured a German regiment. Soon after, they came under heavy machine gun fire. 9 of those American soldiers were killed or wounded. Surrounded by chaos, York repositioned himself and picked off the German gunners with his rifle. Six German soldiers with bayonets then charged at him. York had exhausted all of his rifle ammunition and drew his pistol, killing all 6 of the attackers. The remaining German soldiers were soon forced to surrender to York and the remaining Americans.

On the way back to the American lines, York and his men captured even more of the enemy. In total, they were responsible for the capture of 132 enemy soldiers. Sergeant York was awarded the Medal of Honor and several other citations for his actions on that day.

After the war ended, York became a legend in the hearts and minds of the American public. Fame was in front of him, but the spotlight isn’t what mattered to York as he dedicated the rest of his life to serving the people in his home state of Tennessee. York attempted to rejoin the infantry in World War II, but health issues denied him active service.

York's actions during the First World War was the inspiration behind the movie, Sergeant York, which was released in 1941.

On September 2, 1964, Alvin York passed away in his home of Nashville, Tennessee. His memory is a constant reminder that life is not about fame, but is instead defined by fulfilling our service to each other.

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