RFI President Eric Patterson: America’s Veterans Keep Contributing

November 13, 2023

In honor of Veterans Day 2023, RFI President Eric Patterson reflected on the ongoing contributions of America’s veterans long after their time of military service has ended. Writing for WORLD, Patterson pointed to the story of Tennessee native Alvin York, who “earned the Medal of Honor for heroic action on the Western Front, just before World War I ended on Nov. 11, 1918.” Patterson continued:

We celebrate that day as Veterans Day and pacifist-turned-hero Alvin York is a reminder of not just the heroism of our veterans, but also the truth that they often to continue to serve our nation in other ways upon leaving the military.

“The Germans got us, and they got us right smart. … The machine guns were spitting fire and cutting us down….” recalled York, then a corporal. York’s platoon of Americans was ordered out of the trenches in the early morning hours of Oct. 8. Faced with artillery and machine gun fire from just 30 yards away, York alone survived the race across an open field, recalling, “You never heard such a clatter and racket in all your life.”

At this point, a German lieutenant and seven soldiers confronted York. Miraculously, he was unharmed after shooting all eight Germans. He then called on Germans on the hillside to give up. “All the time I kept yelling at them to come down. I didn’t want to kill any more than I had to. But it was they or I. And I was giving them the best I had.”

They surrendered. The official citation reads, “Practically unassisted, he captured 132 Germans (three of whom were officers), took about thirty-five machine guns, and killed no less than twenty-five of the enemy, later found by others on the scene of York’s extraordinary exploit.”

Read the full article: “Lessons from Sgt. York.”