Only in America part 1
Published 2:59 pm Thursday, June 3, 2021
By Tim Simpson
Was one of the most decorated American soldiers in World War I.
He received the Medal of Honor for leading an attack on a German machine-gun nest, taking 32 machine guns, killing 28 German soldiers, and capturing 132 others.
Was born in a two-room log cabin near Pall Mall, Tennessee, on December 13, 1887.
Despite his history of drinking and fighting, he attended church regularly and often led the hymn singing.
A revival meeting at the end of 1914 led him to a conversion experience on January 1, 1915. His congregation was the Church of Christ in Christian Union, a Protestant denomination.
He was drafted into the United States Army and served in Company G, 328th Infantry Regiment, 82nd Infantry Division at Camp Gordon, Georgia.
Granted a 10-day leave to visit home, he returned convinced that God meant for him to fight and would keep him safe. He was as committed to his new mission as he had been to pacifism.
He refused many offers to profit from his fame during the war, including thousands of dollars offered for appearances, product endorsements, newspaper articles, and movie rights to his life story.
During World War II, he attempted to re-enlist in the Army.
However, at fifty-four years of age, overweight, near-diabetic, and with evidence of arthritis, he was denied enlistment as a combat soldier.
Instead, he was commissioned a major in the Army Signal Corps and he toured training camps and participated in bond drives in support of the war effort – usually paying his own travel expenses.
Twice in the 1920s, he cooperated with journalists in telling his life story.
He had refused several times to authorize a film version of his life story. Finally, in 1940, as he was looking to finance an interdenominational Bible school, he yielded to a persistent Hollywood producer and negotiated the contract himself.
In 1941, the movie about his life directed by Howard Hawks with Gary Cooper in the title role told about his life and Medal of Honor action.
He died at the Veterans Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, on September 2, 1964, of a cerebral hemorrhage.
His name? Sgt. York, a true American hero.
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