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Tennessee (/ˌtɛnəˈs/ (About this soundlisten), locally /ˈtɛnəsi/; Cherokee: ᏔᎾᏏ, romanized: Tanasi) is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. Tennessee is the 36th largest and the 16th most populous of the 50 United States. Tennessee is bordered by Kentucky to the north, Virginia to the northeast, North Carolina to the east, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi to the south, Arkansas to the west, and Missouri to the northwest. The Appalachian Mountains dominate the eastern part of the state, and the Mississippi River forms the state's western border. Nashville is the state's capital and largest city, with a 2017 population of 667,560 and a 2017 metro population of 1,903,045. Tennessee's second largest city is Memphis, which had a population of 652,236 in 2017.

The state of Tennessee is rooted in the Watauga Association, a 1772 frontier pact generally regarded as the first constitutional government west of the Appalachians. What is now Tennessee was initially part of North Carolina, and later part of the Southwest Territory. Tennessee was admitted to the Union as the 16th state on June 1, 1796. Tennessee was the last state to leave the Union and join the Confederacy at the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861. Occupied by Union forces from 1862, it was the first state to be readmitted to the Union at the end of the war.

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The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville is a 2,362-seat live performance venue best known as the one-time home of the Grand Ole Opry.

The auditorium was first opened as the Union Gospel Tabernacle in 1892. It was used for Grand Ole Opry broadcasts from 1943 until 1974, when the Opry built a larger venue just outside Nashville at the Opryland USA theme park. The Ryman then sat mostly vacant until 1992, when Emmylou Harris and her band the Nash Ramblers performed a series of concerts there (the results of which appeared on her album At the Ryman). The Harris concerts renewed interest in the restoring the Ryman; it was reopened as an intimate performance venue and museum in 1994. In 2001, the Ryman Auditorium was designated a National Historic Landmark and included in the National Register of Historic Places.

Among the greats of country music who have performed at the Ryman over the years are Roy Acuff, Johnny Cash, Garth Brooks, Patsy Cline, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Emmylou Harris, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Glen Campbell, Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, Marty Robbins, Ernest Tubb, Dottie West, Hank Williams, and Tammy Wynette. (Read more...)

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Alvin York, born to an impoverished farming family in Fentress County, Tennessee on December 13, 1887, became the most decorated American soldier in World War I. For leading an attack against a German machine gun nest during fighting in France, killing 25 German soldiers and capturing 132 others, he was awarded the U.S. Medal of Honor, the French Croix de Guerre and Legion of Honor, Italy's Croce di Guerra, and a War Medal from Montenegro.

When he was first drafted into the United States Army in 1917, York was a conscientious objector who opposed war on religious grounds. However, eventually he became convinced that warfare could be justified.

His heroic actions occurred during a mission to secure a German railroad line on October 8, 1918. York was one of 17 men who infiltrated behind enemy lines and overran the headquarters of a German unit, capturing a large group of German prisoners. The American unit then came under heavy machine gun fire, killing six of the Americans and wounding three others, including the sergeant in command. York, a corporal, took command of the other seven remaining men and succeeded in silencing the machine guns while continuing to guard the prisoners. By the end of the engagement, York and his seven men marched 132 German prisoners back to the American lines. York was promoted to sergeant and was awarded several medals for his heroism. (Read more...)

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Solar eclipse totality with surrounding corona at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, Tennessee, United States; the TTU scoreboard logo is at the lower left.
Image credit: Brian Stansberry (2017)

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