I really should be grading finals right now, but for some reason I developed a sudden urge to find a recording of Alvin York’s voice. Most of the historical figures that interest me came along well before the advent of sound recording, so I don’t get to indulge this sort of curiosity too often. This newsreel includes a brief clip of York speaking.
As a bonus, here’s a video tour of his home, with some reflections from his son and daughter-in-law.
While my cousin and I were in Nashville last week to see the Emancipation Proclamation, we visited a collection I’d managed to miss on all my previous trips to Music City: the Tennessee State Museum’s Military Branch.
Jacket, cap, leg guards, medals, and dog tags belonging to Alvin C. York
Located inside the War Memorial Building near the Capitol, the Military Museum focuses on America’s wars from 1898 through 1945 and Tennesseans’ participation in them. It’s a small facility, but it’s chock full of impressive artifacts. Historical weapons and uniforms make up the bulk of the collection, but you’ll also find models, medals, propaganda posters, the silver service from a battleship, and a jacket worn by Dwight Eisenhower. Some of the items on display are trophies carried home by Tennessee veterans, such as Philippine and Japanese swords and German sidearms.
Although the exhibits give you a pretty general overview of America’s wars, special attention is paid to Tennessee connections. A special highlight is a case devoted to Alvin York containing a uniform jacket, the Congressional Medal of Honor he received for his exceptional exploits of October 8, 1918, and some additional items. (The museum is currently running a temporary exhibit on Sgt. York and the effort to map and excavate the site of his most famous engagement, so this is a great time to visit if you’re interested in WWI’s most famous soldier.)
The exhibits are a little dated, but the items on display more than make up for the lack of bells and whistles. Give yourself about an hour and a half to tour the museum; hardcore weapon and military buffs will probably need additional time to take it all in.
…from the Museum of Appalachia near Norris, TN. They’ve had a small Sgt. York exhibit for some time now, but it’s nice to hear that it’s getting an update.
If you can’t make the special event on Sunday, try to budget some time to visit the museum when you’re passing through East Tennessee. It’s got a fine collection of original buildings and artifacts.
While I’m making recommendations, let me encourage anybody interested in Alvin York and the movie based on his exploits to read Michael Birdwell’s Celluloid Soldiers.