The son of tenant farming parents in west-central Indiana, Ernie Pyle became history’s greatest war correspondent. When Pyle was killed by a Japanese machine-gun bullet on the tiny Pacific island of Ie Shima in 1945, his columns were being delivered to more than 14 million homes according to his New York Times obituary.
During the war, Pyle wrote about the hardships and bravery of the common soldier, not grand strategy. His description of the G.I.’s life was more important to families on the home front than battlefront tactics of Gens. Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, or George Patton.
Prior to the United States’ entry into World War II, Pyle traveled to England and wrote about the Nazi’s continual bombing of London. His columns helped move the mood of America from isolationism to sympathy for the stubborn refusal of Great Britain to succumb to the will of Adolf Hitler.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist’s legacy rests in his words and the impact they had on Americans before and during a war that threatened to take the world behind a curtain of fascism. His columns open a window to the hardships endured by the common U.S. soldier during World War II and serve today to honor what has been called “The Greatest Generation.”
Look for related stories in InkFreeNews leading up to Tuesday’s anniversary of V-J Day, celebrated every Sept. 2 in the U.S. V-J Day stands for Victory over Japan Day, commemorating a shift in the Second World War in favor of the Allies that spelled the end of the massive conflict.
- Monday morning – The last column written by Ernie Pyle. The uncompleted work was found in the shirt pocket on his body on April 18, 1945, the day he was killed by a Japanese machine-gun bullet on Ie Shima during the battle for Okinawa.
- Tuesday morning – The God-damned infantry column, which earned Pyle the Pulitzer Prize in 1944.
- Wednesday morning – The death of Capt. Waskow column, which was declared the best column ever written, according to the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.
- Wednesday night – The liberation of Paris, which captures the joy of a city freed from Nazi occupation.
The Ernie Pyle World War II Museum features the famous journalist’s birthplace and a museum dedicated to Pyle’s life and writings as a war correspondent. It is owned by the Friends of Ernie Pyle, who are dedicated to preserving and expanding the legacy of the writer whose columns linked the soldiers on the front line to worried families on the home front. To preserve Ernie Pyle’s memory is to preserve the sacrifices made by what has been dubbed “The Greatest Generation.” To learn more about the Ernie Pyle World War II Museum located in Dana, Indiana, or make a donation to assist the efforts of the Friends of Ernie Pyle to honor him and that generation, go to www.erniepyle.org.