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During World War I, Alvin Cullum York was one of the most decorated and bejeweled army soldiers in the United States. He was born in a rural part of Tennessee on December 13, 1887. Alvin York, like many history shapers, had no military or exceptional past. Alvin York's father was a blacksmith, and due to a huge family of ten other siblings and a lack of money, York did not obtain proper and thorough education.
York had to work wherever he could to help his family. York’s father died early in his life, and he had to stick to work to support his younger siblings completely. Alvin York, being a soldier at heart from always, did not run from his responsibilities and worked hard to earn bread for his family. York was a regular church going person and had deep religious bonding with Christ. In his early years of adulthood, he was a heavy drinker, but righteousness found him early, and he quit drinking and made promises never to return.
When the World War I commenced, York was drafted as a field soldier. Because of different religion and a set of beliefs, York was made a part of an infantry private in the 82nd division. Infantry counts to be the unit of the military which consists of soldiers who are fully armed but fight on foot. After that, he was sent to France in 1918. Because of his dedicated participation, in the month of October in 1918, he was promoted to the level of Corporal.
York, as a recently endorsed corporal, was assigned the task of taking down a German machine gun position. He was one of the 17 other soldiers in his group who was ordered to break into lines of Germany and take down the position of German machine gun. At this point, in his heart, York had no idea that he was about to write a golden page of American History. When American patrol incarcerated a considerable number of German soldiers, German troops opened their fires.
With heavy small arms German fire, six American soldiers were instantly killed, and three became heavily wounded. The situation turned upside down, and it felt for a moment that everyone was going to bleed to death. The German prisoners thought that was the moment of their freedom, but they were wrong. York, being successful to save himself from heavy gunfire and highest in rank at that place, took charge. He ordered rest of his able soldiers to watch and guard the prisoners and take defense positions.
York himself got into attacking position and with his fastest shooting speed took the aim of machine gunman. Due to his wise move, he became able to take down some German soldiers in a row. In that critical position, the ammunition of York’s rifle got empty. At that deadliest point, without losing his mind, York drew his pistol and shot the entire German gunmen directly without getting himself hurt.
German shooters emptied their ammunitions and pistols targeting York but failed as no bullet hit York at that time. In the end, a German officer on the other side requested to surrender. York accepted their request, and at that moment history was made. A golden chapter of bravery and heroism was written all alone by Alvin York in the history of the United States. York with his remaining soldiers rallied back to their main command post of the unit along with the huge amount of 130 captured German prisoners (Kopel, Dave).
Because of his bravery and outstanding battlefield performance, York was instantly promoted to ‘sergeant. York, for his tremendous achievement, was also awarded ‘Cross of Distinguished Service’ which was later upgraded to the ‘Medal of Honor.' The up gradation was because of the reason that the achievement of Alvin York was indeed huge and great and deserved the highest award of Honor and Bravery. York because of his tremendous accomplishment not only became a symbol of bravery and honor but also became a renowned celebrity across the globe.
He was not awarded with ‘Medal of Honor’ for his triumph but also received some decorations and awards from other countries including France and Italy as well. His extraordinary battlefield bravery not only made history but his character and belief system inspired people to their core. When he was awarded Medal of Honor and other worthy decorations, he was asked multiple questions by many people about what happened during that specific period.
York was even asked that was it real luck or just his bravery and courage that he survived and succeeded. He replied with a great answer that must be remembered. York said that at that moment, he had a firm believe in his heart that someone was protecting him. Someone behind him was telling him what to do and what to not. The German gun machine in front of him was spitting fire and metal with the highest speed, and everything around him was falling apart. Not only his courage but his strong and unshakable belief in God and His might made him stood there (Hickman, Kennedy).
York claimed to believe that it was God and His power which made him survive and do what he has done. His belief system inspired thousands of people and refreshed their faiths. York proved to be extremely worthy of his accomplishments and remained pious and calm on his achievements. He never claimed to be the only winner of the moment. He always remembered to include his companion soldiers as without them it was impossible for him to do what he had done.
York once said, “The fear of God makes a hero, the fear of man makes a coward.” This saying of York clearly demonstrated and explained his whole belief system. It is indeed true that when we only fear of God, we only care about God’s views on us and we only care about God’s will and happiness, we become fearless and courageous. On the contrary, the fear of man makes a person fear everything in existence. He will fear fire, water, air and everything that seems to be in control and power. He will turn into a coward and dork in no time, and anything can bring down such a person. Such a person can be easily defeated. When a person starts to fear a man just like him (made of sand) than his internal bravery dies and he becomes fearful of anything that seems to pose a threat or danger (S, Ryan).
When a man fears only God, there is nothing in this world that can undo him or bring him down because he fears the One who is powerful than anything in this world. This belief makes a person brave, courageous and turns him into a hero. Only people with such beliefs can make wonders happen like Alvin York did. He once said that it is much difficult and hard to whip oneself than to whip another person and he can say that because he has done the both.
This saying of Alvin York depicts his hard work and tough times that he had to face in his life and army. Alvin proved to be a courageous and heroic person because he learned from his past, experiences, and sufferings that tried their best to bring him down. The second thing explained from the above saying of Alvin York is that it is much harder and difficult for a person to judge himself than to judge someone else. We can also relate it to the modern world as well where judging others is the easiest thing to do, and no one cares to look inside themselves.
York, after returning to Tennessee after the ending of WWI, lived on a farm that was provided to him by the government. He spent rest of his life making efforts for the education of children in rural area of Tennessee. He also got married and had seven children. A film named “Sergeant York” was released in 1941 as a tribute to the York’s accomplishments and remained the highest grosser of that year. The movie starred ‘Gary Cooper’ as Alvin York in the movie, and because of his amazing and flawless portrayal of York, Gary was also awarded the Academy Award for best actor.
York also wanted to participate in the Second World War but could not because of increased age and weight. He also suffered from certain financial problems near the end of his lifetime. York suffered a stroke in 1954 but survived and fought back to life. Because of the severity of a stroke, York could not return completely to health and remained sick for next ten years. Finally, the great hero of American War History closed his eyes and entered the eternal world after the attack of a cerebral hemorrhage on September 2, 1964. He would have survived, but because of an early history of stroke and prolonged ailment, the hemorrhage proved to be fatal. The great hero blessed this world with his presence for 76 years.
This essay comprised the life events and accomplishments of a great hero named Alvin Cullum York. Alvin York wrote the history of American World War I with a golden pen of his bravery and courage. In this essay, the early life, personal belief system, details of achievements and life after the war of York has been briefly discussed. The author described that York was born in the rural area of Tennessee and because of the large family remained unable to acquire basic schooling and education. York was a true believer of God and faithful follower of Christ and Church. First, he was a heavy drinker but quit drinking after an insightful experience.
After joining the army as an infantry soldier, he was ordered to take down a German gun machine. After his commander falls, York took charge, ordered his fellow soldiers to take defense positions and guard captives. He, alone, took the attacking position and without getting even a single bullet in his body, York took down the German gun machine. He returned to the main post with 132 captives and a glowing page in the American War history was written.
He was upgraded to sergeant and received Medal of Honor and other decorations as a reward for his phenomenal success. He claimed that his unshakable belief system was the main reason for his success and achievement. He was awarded a farm in his hometown where he lived for the rest of his life and did a lot of work for child education in rural areas. He died at the age of 76 because of prolonged ailment and cerebral hemorrhage.
In this essay, the character of Alvin York is portrayed as a brave, courageous person with strong belief in God’s power. Alvin York never claimed himself to be the only reason for his success. He always included the love of God and support of his fellow soldiers as major reasons behind his achievements. He believed that the person who fears only God becomes a hero as he did but a person who fears men gradually turns into a coward.
I was greatly inspired and encouraged after learning about the bravery, achievements, and character of Alvin York. He was indeed a true hero, a great person, and a perfect human being. His character, sayings, and ideologies are what we are in dire need to follow nowadays. Alvin York’s character teaches us to become brave, fearless and valiant. His life history teaches us that where we came from does not matter, what matters is where we tend to end our journey of life. York was a son of a blacksmith, if he would remain to be just like his father and did not let his inner shine and bravery come out, he would also end as someone unknown.
The life history of Alvin York gives us the lesson of repenting on your false doings as he did before turning into the army. He accepted his flaw of excessive drinking, repented and promised never to do again. We should learn from this as he did the act of repentance at an early age when people usually do not even realize their internal flaws. We must also accept our flaws as soon as we realize them. The truth is, when we do something wrong, deep inside, we all know that. Our hearts never lie. It is a matter of time when we choose to listen what our heart says.
Alvin listened to his heart real early in his life, and his repentance set him on the path of love of God and ultimate success. He continued his journey of life with day by day increasing love for God, and in the end, in the hour of need, God supported him. In the battlefield, Alvin miraculously did not receive a single bullet despite open fire of gun machine.
We should also learn from this great event. We must also rely completely only on God in our life events. What we do wrong is that we rely on people like us, who possess equal power as we do and cannot make miracles happen. Miracles happen when a person only fears God as Alvin did and believed blindly in his strength and of Gods’ same as Alvin did. This was a complete, insightful experience for me to learn about the life and success history of the great hero of American war history. I felt encouraged and motivated, experienced an increase in my belief system and looking forward to applying Alvin rules and thoughts in my life events. As I believe, at heart, we are all soldiers.
Hickman, Kennedy. "Sergeant York: Hero Of The AEF". Thoughtco, 2017, https://www.thoughtco.com/sergeant-alvin-c-york-2360159.
Kopel, Dave. "Amercian Character Sergeant York". America's Freedom, 2006, http://www.davekopel.org/2A/Mags/Sergeant-York.pdf.
S, Ryan. The Life Of Alvin York. http://writefromtheheartclasses.com/papers/mgrp/Ryan%20S.%20-%20Alvin%20York.pdf.
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