Alvin York represented the rural, undereducated drafted soldier who went to Europe to “keep the world safe for democracy.” Americans should remember him because of his courageousness in battle, and his contributions to America after the war.

York should be remembered because during WWI, he acted heroically to save both American and German lives. York was left alone during an offensive when a surprise German machine-gun attack killed or injured every soldier in his company. Taking his .30-caliber rifle, York advanced on the machine gunners, even though his odds for success were dangerously low. For York to be able to hit any of the Germans, they would have to fire at him first. This put York’s bravery to the test as he had to stand his ground and shoot back at his enemy every time they exposed their heads. As a devout Christian, York did not want to kill other men. He continuously yelled at the Germans to “give up and come on down.” (Douglas Mastriano) This was heroic because York had to break his values in order to save the lives of his fellow soldiers. He killing only because he had too, he kept his concentration because he made saving his company the priority. This noble event in history is worth remembering because he acted courageously and alone. Because of this heroism, York became famous.

York should also be remembered because of his influential views on war itself. Before the war, York was against all forms of violence (Judith Bronte). After he was drafted, he adapted his religious values to justify his fighting in the war. As his diary reflected, after reading passages from the Bible about violence, he came to the conclusion that a war was worth fighting if it was moral. By participating in the war, York would ultimately be defending democracy by defending America’s allies who were threatened by more powerful countries. After York acquired his fame from his nobility during WWI, these values would help influence people who weren’t sure about fighting in later wars, taking into account if the situation going on was morally correct or not. 

Upon returning from WWI, York’s actions were worth remembering because he was set on helping and educating others. In the 1920’s he formed the Alvin C. York Foundations which increased education opportunities in Tennessee(Lee, 1985). Instead of capitalizing on his fame, York chose to set a good example because he knew many people looked up to him. He was an American hero and instead of talking about war, he focused on donating for causes such as funding bus transportation for students (David D. Lee). His actions during these times were important because they set an example for the many people who were influenced by him. He demonstrated that he was more than just a war hero.

In his later life, York made an influential decision that should be remembered because it spread his opinion on war to all of America. It took until 1941 for York to authorize the making of a movie about his life and Medal of Honor action(Jesse L. Lasky). Releasing this movie during WWII influenced the American people by bringing York’s views on war to the audience. Due to the massive amounts of casualties during WWI, many people were discouraged to fight in WWII. When they became educated on York’s ideas about fighting, the idea of accessing a war on whether it was moral or not, was influential on the current battles going on, and war itself. Alvin York should be remembered for his ideas as well as his nobility in battle. Americans looked up to York not just because he was a war hero. In fact, taking the German machine gun post was probably one of York’s least significant accomplishments. He used his fame and acknowledgement to help America when he got back from the war. He taught everyone lessons on war, and used what he had to better himself, and his country. That is why Alvin York should be remembered.


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