GREENVILLE, S.C. – As a tribute to the Old Hickory Division that trained in Greenville during World War I, City of Greenville police officers and Greenville County sheriff’s deputies will be wearing commemorative “poppy” pins through the rest of the year.
The Old Hickory Division, which was the nickname for the 30th Infantry, forged an eternal legacy for the community the day it broke the allegedly “unbreakable” Hindenburg line in 1918, leading to the end of World War I.
The Division’s training originated at Camp Sevier in Greenville and included hundreds of local soldiers as well as men from the rest of South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee. The Remember the Old Hickory Project is a non-profit organization established to remember Camp Sevier, which was one of the largest Army bases in America during the war. Located about six miles from downtown Greenville, the camp covered some 1,900 acres in what is now the Taylors area.
“It is critical that we honor the massive impact that Greenville and Camp Sevier made on the outcome of World War I,” said Greenville County Sherriff John Mack Brown. “By wearing these pins, we are providing a big opportunity to draw community attention to that unique moment in history.”
Though the pin itself may be small in size, the significance behind its presence is monumental. The success of the Hindenburg Line break came at quite the cost. In a short three months following the break, the Old Hickory Division saw more than 1,000 officers and enlisted men killed in action with another 7,178 either injured or declared missing in action.
“There is no better way to honor the brave soldiers who made those selfless sacrifices for our country,” said Greenville’s Chief of Police Ken Miller. “While our attention always remains focused on securing our future, this wearable tribute serves to remind everyone that we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us, and we are forever indebted to their commitment, discipline, and sacrifice.”
Years beyond the impact made through training soldiers, Camp Sevier also sparked Greenville’s growth into the city we know and love today.
Because of Camp Sevier, alongside 100,000 men who trained there, improvements were made to everything in Greenville from roads to schools. The army paved the national highway from Greenville to Camp Sevier, the first paved road in Greenville county.
Both the City of Greenville and Greenville County are working together with the Remember the Old Hickory Project to build a year-long series of celebrations commemorating the historical significance of the long-gone camp and the memory of those who went through basic training there.
About the Remember the Old Hickory Project:
This non-profit organization aims to celebrate and honor the history of Camp Sevier, one of the largest U.S. Army bases during World War I. It was the home of the 30th Infantry Division, better known as the Old Hickory. More than 100,000 soldiers came through the camp. More information can be found at www.remember1918.com.