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Memphians in Two World Wars and Korea

Tennessee is nicknamed the Volunteer State because of the willingness of its citizens to fight for their country. Memphians have always supported war efforts in whatever way they could - from soldiering to nursing to manufacturing to farming.

April 6, 1917, the United States declared war on Germany and set out to "make the world safe for democracy." Over 1/3 of Shelby County's eligible men, some 9,000, joined the military to fight in World War I. Patriotic fervor nationwide was mixed with a hatred of all things German. Suburban community Germantown temporarily changed its name to Neshoba; schools quit teaching German and musician rarely played Bach or Beethoven.

Memphis again rushed to serve their country during World War II. Some 40,000 Shelby Countians eventually served as draftees or volunteers. However, patriotic zeal did not reach the extremes of 1917. Although the Japanese garden in Overton Park was destroyed, Germantown did not change its name again.

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