Sewanee Memorial Cross

Sewanee Memorial Cross

The Sewanee Memorial Cross sits in a wooded area on the edge of a bluff on the campus of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. Sitting on the Cumberland plateau overlooking the Franklin County valley, it was constructed in August 1922 as a memorial to all who died in "The war to end all wars." Following in the tradition of many summit crosses, it not only serves as a reminder of those who died in World War I, but for all from Franklin County who have died in wars since then.

The Rt. Rev. Albion Williamson Knight was Vice-Chancellor from 1914 to 1922, and served the University during the construction of the cross. Knight saw enrollment in the College reach an all time high during his first years there, but later saw a loss of revenue and students after America entered World War I.

To visit the cross one starts at the University and travels down Tennessee Ave. As the cross grows nearer it appears directly in the middle of the road. The road dead ends here with a loop around the cross. A beautiful place day or night. If you are ever here, remember those who sacrificed their lives to make America what it is today.

There are many plaques commemorating these wars. The text for each plaque at the base of the cross reads:

World War I
To the sons of Sewanee who answered their country's call to service in the World War 1917-1918

World War II
To those from the university, the military academy, Sewanee, and all Franklin County in World War II 1941-1945

The Korean War
To the students and citizens of sewanee and to the citizens of Franklin County who served this country in the Korean War 1950-1953

Vietnam War
To the men and women of the university of Sewanee and of Franklin County who answered their call to serve in the Vietnam War 1965-1972

Desert Storm
To the men and women of the University, of Sewanee, and of Franklin County who served in Desert Storm 1991

Originally published

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Sewanee Memorial Cross

  • Wendy
    I love visiting the cross but, there's one thing that drives me nuts. Vietnam was not a war it was an armed conflict, not one of the 5 presidents that were in office during this time [1945 to 1972] did NOT declare war on the Viet Cong nor on North Vietnam.
  • Wake
    Indeed, but the purpose of the cross is to remember those who answered their call to service and how much better the world is for their sacrifice. To that goal I think the cross does a fine job.
  • Are small weddings allowed Infront of the cross ?
  • Wake
    I am not affiliated with Sewanee in any way but yes, I have seen a wedding there. It looked very peaceful and beautiful. There is a link to their website on this page which would be a good place to look for a contact number for the University.
  • Brent
    What camera was used here?
  • Wake
    I believe I just used an old iPhone 4s for both of these photos.
  • Harlen
    Why are those who severed in the Civil War not memorialized as well?
  • Wake
    Because the cross was originally built to memorialize those who served and died in World War I. Plaques were only added for those who served in wars after WWI. It was ultimately decided that the cross would only serve as a memorial for those who served and died in wars during the 20th century.

    From The University of the South:
    "Sewanee’s Memorial Cross honors the students and alumni of the University of the South and the Sewanee Military Academy and the citizens of Franklin County who fought and those who lost their lives in service to their country in the wars of the last century."

  • Can someone in a wheelchair be able to get to the cross fairly easy?
  • Wake
    Yes, parking is available at the cross and the walkway to the cross is only slightly uphill.
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