04 June 2013

Southern Soldier - Alvin York

Alvin York & His Mother
Alvin York was, at one time, known by every American boy and a household name in practically every home in America. A quintessential American icon and hero from Tennessee who experienced a dramatic conversion to Christianity York was, initially, a contentious objector during WWI. His views changed during the war and he single-highhandedly "killed 20 of the enemy, silenced 35 machine guns, captured 3 officers and 129 enlisted men, and broken up a battalion that was about to launch a counterattack against the Americans."

The unbelievable accomplishment led to General Pershing calling him the "greatest civilian-soldier of the war." And, so, it was a delight to read Brett McKay's piece about Sergeant York this morning at Art of Manliness. McKay discusses the lessons men can learn from York's difficult decision regarding what he initially saw as a conflict: his Christian faith and war.
“Mother,” Alvin began, “I promise you tonight that I will never drink again as long as I live. I will never smoke or chew again. I will never gamble again. I will never cuss or fight again. I will live the life God wants me to live.” It was just past midnight on New Year’s Day, 1915, and Alvin York had begun a brand new chapter in his life.
It's a great article and I highly recommend it to readers

I'd also recommend John Perry's book about York. An easy, but good read. And, of course, who can forget the 1941 film classic about York's life which starred Gary Cooper as Alvin York and Walter Brennan as York's mountain preacher. Here's a clip featuring one of my favorite scenes - York being confronted with his conflict of faith and sorting it all out on a mountain top in Tennessee. Classic.

And here's an old newsreel reporting the death of Alvin York.

York's ancestors fought for the Union during the War Between the States.


Robert Moore said...

I'm a little rusty on his Civil War ancestry, but if memory serves, Alvin's paternal grandfather, Uriah York (NC born, but living in E. Tennessee) was a Mexican War veteran who, sometime during the Civil War, went to Kentucky to join the Union army. His maternal grandfather was actually... a Michigan soldier (William Brooks, I believe), who married a Tennessee girl (Nancy Pile).

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Hey Robert. I believe you're correct. Thanks for the comment.

Arlee Bird said...

Sergeant York has been one of my favorite movies ever since I first saw it on TV as a child in the late 50's. I now own a copy on DVD and enjoy it even more so since I understand more about it than I did back then. It's a great story.

Wrote By Rote

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

AB - yes, it is a good one. I've got a copy as well.