Skip to main content

Citizen York

May 2024
1min read

I have enjoyed very much the story in your issue for August/September 1981 on Sergeant York by Nat Brandt.

I remember Sergeant York from a single meeting when he visited Providence, Rhode Island, in the early 1920’s and spoke at a public meeting in promotion of his campaign for improved education for the people of Appalachia.

Sergeant York impressed me mightily, as a genuinely sincere and forthright person. I remember little of what he said, except for one story that generated great applause and that still remains vividly in my memory. It was a sort of fable, I suppose, and it beautifully symbolized the man and his purpose.

He said that there was once a bus (or maybe a little train that couldn’t), which was stuck on a steep hill. The conductor came through, saying: “All first-class passengers keep your seats. All second-class passengers get out and walk. All third-class passengers get out and push.” The sergeant had little need to draw his moral, which was that he hoped that “everyone here is a third-class passenger.” It might have been corny, but it wasn’t.

I was saddened to read that Sergeant York had fallen on hard times at the end—even afoul of the 1RS. I guess he was a third-class passenger, too.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this magazine of trusted historical writing, now in its 75th year, and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.