Alvin York, one of the nation’s most decorated war heroes, became the public face of the Congressional Medal of Honor after capturing 35 German machine guns and 132 prisoners in the Argonne Forest in 1918. York was a hard-working, hard-fighting sharpshooter, a simple country boy and a religious pacifist who displayed tremendous courage, calm and common sense in taking charge of his battalion when their commanding officer was killed. Returning home to national acclaim—parades, honors, ovations—York turned down all opportunities for financial gain from his war exploits, instead spending his life raising money for charity and for educational programs to improve the lives of rural Tennesseans. In 1940, after years of resisting offers to sell his life story to the film industry, he finally relented in order to raise money to start a college. That film became Sergeant York and won an Academy Award for Gary Cooper and cemented York’s place in American history as not only a war hero but also a philanthropist with the courage of his convictions. York has been honored with, among other things, a postage stamp, a statue, a veterans’ hospital and this State Park. Park visitors may tour York’s home place, mill, burial site and general store, watch the film, hike the trail over a swinging bridge or fish the Wolf River. York’s son Andy, a park ranger, is frequently on site to tell tales about his father.
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