This Uniform Ain't For Sale

"This uniform ain't for sale."

Sergeant Alvin C. York


The story of Alvin York is one we don't hear much anymore but it is one, if you have a few moments, that is worth hearing. As a young man who grew up in Tennessee, Alvin was anything but religious. Anything, that is, until he met a young woman named Gracie Williams. His love for her was such that he began to attend church services, and eventually his love for Christ became such that he decided to serve the Lord for the rest of his days.


Convinced that killing was wrong, he initially refused to serve during WWI, but he came to realize that duty to God and Country sometimes requires doing just that. In the Battle of the Argonne Forest, his squad was pinned down by German machine gun fire. They were close to being completely decimated when, with all of his superior officers killed or wounded, the command was turned over to him. Not wanting to risk any more of the lives of his men, Alvin went up the hill and began to "clean out" the German machine gun nests. In that battle Alvin C. York came face to face with the decision to take the lives of the enemy or allow his own men to be wiped out. Since he was wearing the uniform of the Allies, he knew his duty was clear.


His decision resulted in one of the greatest acts of personal heroism ever recorded in the annals of war. That decision led to Marshall Ferdinand Foch, the Commander in Chief of the Allied Armies in WWI, to say, "What you did was the greatest thing accomplished by any private soldier of all the armies of Europe." His decision led to his being awarded the highest medals of honor a foreigner could receive by both the French and Italian Armies, and the highest honor that any American soldier can receive from his own country - the American Medal of Honor!


So just what did Alvin York do, once he decided to fight the enemy in order to save American lives? In this single battle he was credited with 25 confirmed killings of the enemy, with knocking out no less than 35 machine gun nests, and with the near single handed capture of 132 German soldiers. There is no telling how many lives of his fellow soldiers that he saved that day, but make no mistake: Alvin C. York was one of the greatest heroes of any war ever fought in the history of America.


Afterwards, when Alvin returned to the states, he was greeted by one of the biggest parades ever given an American soldier. He was confronted with countless offers for endorsements of products that would have made him rich. Since he had been dirt poor all of his life, the offers must have been very tempting indeed. What was his response to this cashing in of his heroism?


Two quotes stand out. First, he said, "It's over; let's just forget about it." Second, and perhaps one of the greatest things that a U.S. soldier or any soldier has ever been quoted as saying was this:


"This uniform ain't for sale".


Alvin York was a patriot. He was an example as to what every good soldier should be - not one who seeks glory from his necessary service, but one who seeks to serve his country and to protect his fellow soldiers.


We have a similar commission as Christians. We are to serve God. That service sometimes means fighting those who have made themselves enemies of God. We don't engage in this conflict for the glory, but we don't shirk our duty either. We just do it! Sometimes, when that duty is done particularly well, men will be tempted to make a profit from their service in the Lord's army. Sometimes, we as soldiers in the army of God become tempted to enjoy the pleasures of this world as a reward for our service. Sometimes, we as Christians would like for our service to be rewarded here on earth - perhaps we would like to even enjoy the pleasures of the flesh and see how the world lives.


But that's not what we are here for... because when we put on our Lord and savior in baptism (Galatians 3:26-27) we essentially put on the uniform of Christ.


And, that uniform is not for sale!


May God bless all of our heroes who serve God and Country in the selfless manner of Sergeant York, and may God bless everyone who serves in our Lord's kingdom for the honor of their Master and the benefit of their fellow man!


"Endure hardships with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs - he wants to please his commanding officer."

II Timothy 2:3-4, NIV


"Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life."

Jesus, recorded in Revelation 2:10, NIV