“I had orders to report to Brigadier General Lindsey, and he said to me, ‘Well, York, I hear you have captured the whole… German army.’ And I told him I only had 132.” – Alvin C. York
“On the way back we were constantly under heavy shell fire and I had to double time them to get them through safely. There was nothing to be gained by having any more of them wounded or killed. They had surrendered to me, and it was up to me to look after them. And so I did.” – Alvin C. York
“So I am a witness to the fact that God did help me out of that hard battle; for the bushes were shot up all around me and I never got a scratch.” – Alvin C. York
(Source: Diary of Alvin York)
So goes the story of one of the most decorated soldiers of World War I, Alvin C York. We recently read (and thoroughly enjoyed!) Sergeant York and the Great War just before visiting Sergeant Alvin C. York State Historic Park in Pall Mall, Tennessee. York’s diary entries tell a story of a sinner saved by grace – a man who objected to war due to religious convictions but decided to serve as a means of bringing peace to the conflict. His inspiring life is an example of redemption, faith, diligence, humility, and service. And… you can read his story by downloading a free pdf (or kindle or web version) of Sergeant York: His Own Life Story And War Diary by Alvin York and Tom Skeyhill.
A few families in our community drove a couple of hours to visit the Sergeant Alvin C. York State Historic Park located in middle Tennessee, close to the Kentucky state line. What a fun trip (despite the 20 degree weather!)!
The visitor center is modeled after York’s General Store…
…and includes historical displays featuring Alvin York’s life along with artifacts from World War I.
Just across from the Visitor Center (on the other side of the Wolf River), stands the York Gristmill,
and across the street from the Visitor Center lies the York home, where York and his wife, Gracie, raised their children after the end of World War I.
Behind the York home lies a World War I reproduction trench, which is open for the public to explore.
From the World War I trenches, a 0.6-mile trail takes you to a swinging bridge…
just before arriving at the church where Alvin York accepted Christ as his Savior, which lies across the road from the York grave site.
Having only received the equivalent of a third grade education, Alvin York believed all children should have the opportunity to receive a quality education. To bring educational opportunities to his region, he used funds received from the movie Sergeant York for his educational efforts.
One of those efforts included an interdenominational Bible School (which was shut down during WWII)…
and the York Institute in Jamestown. After all of the honors he received for his wartime efforts, Alvin York preferred to be known simply as a man who wanted to bring a “heap o’ larnin'” to the children of Pall Mall, Tennessee.
Well worth the trip if you ever find yourself in mid Tennessee!