D-Day: Lest we forget

What famed WWII journalist Ernie Pyle had to say following the Normandy invasion

Ernie Pyle (bottom left) was as popular with Americans at home as he was with the soldiers he wrote about during World War II. Courtesy photo

On June 6, the 75th anniversary of the Normandy invasion – otherwise known as D-day – The Times-Independent and other newspapers across the nation are taking advantage of an offer made by the Ernie Pyle World War II Museum and the Scripps Howard Foundation, which gave us permission to reprint some of the sobering columns Pyle wrote in the days following the landing which gave the Allies a foothold in Europe. The bloody landing marked a turning point in World War II.

The son of tenant farming parents in west-central Indiana, 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 the battlefront tactics of Gens. Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, George Patton or Omar Bradley.

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.”

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.

Their goal to preserve 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.