“Oh Tennessee, My Tennessee” (Poem)

by | Nov 16, 2017 | 5 comments

Oh, Tennessee

A good percentage of my paternal ancestors hailed from Tennessee. So, in honor of Bill West’s “Ninth Annual Great Poetry Challenge,” I am sharing “Oh Tennessee, My Tennessee.”

From State Symbols USA:

Tennessee adopted “Oh Tennessee, My Tennessee” by Admiral William Porter Lawrence (a native of Nashville TN) as the official state poem in 1973…


Naval Admiral William Lawrence composed “Oh Tennessee, My Tennessee” while enduring a 60 day period of solitary confinement in a North Vietnamese prisoner of war camp. Lawrence spent a total of six years as a POW during the Vietnam War. This poem describes the love and longing he felt for his beautiful home state.

I love the imagery of this poem, especially the line, “Strong Folks of Pioneer Descent.” I can picture my grandparents and great-grandparents in front of the old homestead, watching the sunset in the Great Smokey Mountains. 😊


Oh Tennessee, My Tennessee

Oh Tennessee, My Tennessee
What Love and Pride I Feel for Thee.
You Proud Ole State, the Volunteer,
Your Proud Traditions I Hold Dear.

I Revere Your Heroes
Who Bravely Fought our Country’s Foes.
Renowned Statesmen, so Wise and Strong,
Who Served our Country Well and Long.

I Thrill at Thought of Mountains Grand;
Rolling Green Hills and Fertile Farm Land;
Earth Rich with Stone, Mineral and Ore;
Forests Dense and Wild Flowers Galore;

Powerful Rivers that Bring us Light;
Deep Lakes with Fish and Fowl in Flight;
Thriving Cities and Industries;
Fine Schools and Universities;
Strong Folks of Pioneer Descent,
Simple, Honest, and Reverent.

Beauty and Hospitality
Are the Hallmarks of Tennessee.

And O’er the World as I May Roam,
No Place Exceeds my Boyhood Home.
And Oh How Much I Long to See
My Native Land, My Tennessee.

Naval Admiral William Lawrence 



  1. emptybranches

    Elizabeth, Your poem fits Dave’s many Tennessee ancestors. We visited there once and loved the beautiful landscapes and little towns. Bill West’s challenge has been a fun one.

    • Elizabeth O'Neal

      That’s right, I seem to remember you telling me that Dave’s people hailed from Tennessee, not too far from where mine are from (Greene & Washington Counties)? I keep expecting to see him turn up in my DNA matches one day! 🙂

  2. billwest

    What a wonderful story and poem. Learning who wrote it and why makes it that much more poignant.

    Thanks, Elizabeth for sharing it in the Challenge.

    • Elizabeth O'Neal

      Thank you, Bill! Glad I was able to squeeze this one in juuuust in time! Thank YOU for hosting this fun event each year. 🙂

  3. Nancy

    That’s a beautiful poem, Elizabeth. I can imagine the comfort it brought Admiral Lawrence to think about the beauties of his home state while he was so far away and imprisoned. Tennessee is a beautiful state (though my memories are are only from a visit when I was a child).


What do you think? Share your thoughts!

Elizabeth O'Neal

Elizabeth O'Neal

Genealogist, Writer, Web Developer, Educator

Elizabeth O'Neal is passionate about helping others discover, preserve and share their family stories. She hopes her only descendant will someday develop an interest in her ancestry.


Hello, I'm Elizabeth! I'm a genealogist, writer, and educator, and I've been looking for my descendant's ancestors for 3x's longer than she's been alive. I tell some of their stories here, but I also share tech and blogging tips, news, and other stuff I like. I am the host of the Genealogy Blog Party, which I hope you will join! Find out more right here.

Get Posts by Email

follow us in feedly


Elizabeth's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)



Rootstech Ambassador 2018
Translate »

Get the Latest News!

Sign up today for free to be the first to get notified about Genealogy Blog Party themes, cool deals, and other newsletter-only content!

Thank you for subscribing!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
%d bloggers like this: