I believe that a city’s “nickname” should reflect more than the poorly conceived “branding” attempts of its public relations department. Cities should choose a nickname which reflects the spirit and the history of the place. Nashville’s nickname “Athens of the South” is a perfect example: the moniker reflects the city’s long history as a center of higher learning in the region.
Clarksville’s current nickname is ridiculous: Tennessee’s Top Spot.
The phrase is a “clever” play on Clarksville’s location near the Kentucky border (i.e. the “top” of the state). Unfortunately not only does this nickname fail to reflect anything of the culture, history, or traditions of our city its also just plain wrong: Bristol, Tennessee is located both farther North (actually straddling the state line with Virginia) and higher in altitude.
Our last nickname “Gateway to the New South” was equally meaningless and uninspiring. How exactly is Clarksville a “gateway”? We don’t have an active train station or a public airport and, at the time, we didn’t even have a marina. The only reason we could be considered a gateway is because we are the first city in Tennessee you run into on I-24; of course that also ignores the fact that many people consider Kentucky a part of the South.
When I was growing up Clarksville was “the Queen City” or “the Queen of the Cumberland.” That nickname at least had some vague historical basis in our city’s (long forgotten) position as a major port on the Cumberland River. However “Queen City” is relatively uninspiring and might make the occasional person think of makeup-plastered gay men singing Cher.
Clarksville is in desperate need of a new nickname; a nickname that its citizens and business recruiters can use with pride, and a nickname that reflects our city’s history and traditions.
Clarksville needs a nickname that actually means something.
This is my suggestion: The Sparta of the South.
(Yeah, THAT Sparta.)
The reference to ancient Sparta is not only a nice little nod to our neighbors in Nashville, but also reflects our city’s long military history and the important reality that it serves as a home for thousands of veterans and active servicemen in the U.S. Army.
Clarksville is adjacent to Fort Campbell, a base that is home to both the 101st Airborne Division and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. Many of those soldiers’ families live and work in Clarksville and a great number of them end up retiring in Clarksville.
Clarksville has been home to soldiers and veterans since its founding and its citizens have served in every one of our nation’s wars. Contrary to a common misconception, Clarksville is not named after the great explorer William Clark, but his brother: General George Rogers Clark, a hero of the Revolutionary War.
Clarksville is a military town, and I for one am extremely proud of that tradition. It’s a point of personal pride that my grandfather, while serving in the National Guard, was stationed at then “Camp” Campbell. Growing up in Clarksville many of my role models, teachers and coaches, were either soldiers or veterans.
Just as Athens is a name synonymous with eduction, Sparta is a name synonymous with military tradition and valor.
Just as the Spartans bravely defended their countrymen’s freedom at Thermopylae, the 101st Airborne has defended our nation’s freedom on the fields of Normandy, in the hills of Korea, the jungles of Vietnam, and the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan.
(The 101st: Real-Life Nazi Hunters)
That’s why I believe it’s time to change our city’s title once again. Clarksville deserves a nickname that actually means something. And our fellow citizens, both veterans and active military personnel, are deserving of our recognition.