, Research Paper
Sgt. York His Life, Legend, and Legacy Book Review Sgt. York: His Life, Legend, and Legacy, John Perry, Nashville, TN, Broadman and Holdman Publishers, 1997, 349 pgs, $16.99. In his thought-provoking book Sgt. York: His Life, Legend, and Legacy, John Perry details the life of Congressional Medal of Honor winner Alvin C. York. York s life is thoroughly covered, spanning from his humble beginnings, on to the battle that earned him the Medal of Honor and made him world famous, and chronicling his morally charged fight to improve the lives of the country folk of his home. Perry wrote this book to illustrate the true heroism of Sgt. York, which came not so much from his actions on the battlefield, but from his examples of faith, patriotism, and morality. Perry sums York s life on the back sleeve of the book cover when he writes, His story is one of struggle, sacrifice, and ultimate triumph in the service of his mountain people, his beloved country, and his God. Using this description as his guide, Perry proceeds to write a vivid description of the epitome of the American hero. Alvin York s true heroism sprang from his examples of faith, patriotism, and morality.
He earned his fame by capturing 132 German soldiers, and silencing more than 20 machine gun emplacements single-handedly. Although this is an almost super human feat, York never once bragged about his accomplishment, and always credited God with the victory. He explained his bravery by saying, Before I went to war I prayed to God, and He gave me my assurance that as long as I believed in Him, not one hair of my head would be harmed (91). His devotion to his God serves as the focal point on which his heroism is based. Sgt. York could have used his fame to make himself a very wealthy man. Instead, he set forth on a crusade to ensure that every child from his homeland was educated. Again, York s faith spurred this crusade, with his creed being, What shall a man profit if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (142). In a rally in Knoxville, TN, York demonstrated his morally charged patriotism and love of his countrymen when he said, Everyone should be anxious to raise the standard in this country and there is just one way to do it: by religion and education (142). His efforts resulted in thousands of children receiving top-quality education in rural Tennessee, thus ensuring the higher standard for the nation that the Sergeant envisioned. Alvin C. York was the epitome of the American hero. His displays of faith, patriotism, and morality add more to this image than his exploits on the battlefield. Perry successfully details the passion in which the Sergeant embraced his ideals, and creates a book that every American citizen should read. Perhaps in this, the Sergeant s ideals for a higher American standard will further come to fruition.