Veterans Day Weekend Celebration at York Park Continues to Grow

By Jacob E. Rosenbaum

The annual Veterans Day weekend celebrations at Sgt. Alvin C. York Park in Pall Mall was even larger and more extensive this year, with familiar activities as well as new ones occurring over the four day span of the event.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of people visited Pall Mall this past weekend and observed and participated in numerous events, including  movie screenings, educational seminars, World War I demonstrations, the Park’s first ever “Homecoming Parade” and the annual ceremony honoring all veterans and current service members.

The event kicked off on Thursday, November 7, with students from the Fentress County School System visiting the park to learn more about the heritage of heroes like Sgt. Alvin C. York, and World War I. In spite of the less than ideal weather on that day, students were still able to participate in a number of educational programs.

On Friday, November 8, visitors were treated to a serenade of period music from World War I, followed by a special screening of Sgt. York the film.

Saturday was a full day of festivities, which included two battle demonstrations at the park’s trenches, and several historical presentations which touched on subjects including soldiers’ hygiene, healthcare, eating habits, daily routines, lifestyles, and struggles. Authentic WWI era bi-planes soared above the Valley of the Three Forks of the Wolf throughout the day, a spectacle rarely seen in this part of the country. The day was brought to a close by the park’s first ever homecoming ticker tape parade, during which doughboy re-enactors marched through the park accompanied by current service members and cadets from the York Institute JROTC battalion. The returning heroes were cheered by the crowd as a group of traditional bagpipe players led the way while playing victory songs.

Sunday, November 10, held even more activities in store for park-goers, as the re-enactors and park staff took part in a game of baseball. Following the game, a special ceremony commemorating 100 years of the American Legion was held, which included a special presentation by Steven Wiseman, the most recent past Commander of the Tennessee American Legion.

Finally, on Veterans Day itself, Monday, November 11, the annual ceremony held in honor of all U. S. Military Veterans took place at 11:00 a.m in the “Big Red Barn” located next to the Sgt. York Homesite. Members of the York family, including Col. Gerald York and Sgt. York Patriotic Foundation Executive Director Deborah York served as Masters of Ceremonies for the event, which included several speakers such as Mr. Wiseman on behalf of the American Legion, Sgt. York Historic Park Manager Nate Dodson, and Major General Terry “Max” Haston, former Commander of the Tennessee National Guard. The ceremony also included a variety of patriotic music provided by Noteworthy, the hand-selected competition choir group from Alvin C. York Institute.

Support your local newspaper by reading the rest of the story in this weeks Fentress Courier.